You probably use starch while cooking or maybe doing your laundry, but this versatile ingredient has applications in textiles and pharmaceuticals as well. Fortunately, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found a way to produce this good more sustainably.
Current starch production methods involve photosynthesizing CO2 using about 60 biochemical reactions as well as vast amounts of cultivated land and freshwater. The new artificial synthesis method significantly reduces land and water requirements.
Using a chemoenzymatic system and an artificial starch anabolic pathway, the researchers reduce CO2 to methanol using an organic catalyst and then use engineered enzymes to turn it into sugar and then polymeric starch.
The new method produces starch from CO2 with 8.5 times the efficiency of corn and requires only 11 core reactions. The synthetic start has the same structure and quality as natural starch. The researchers hope it can be used to reduce land and water use as well as the need for environmentally damaging pesticides and fertilizers.
One of the study’s authors, MA Yanhe, says, “If the overall cost of the process can be reduced to a level economically comparable with agricultural planting in the future, it is expected to save more than 90 percent of cultivated land and freshwater resources.”
Source study: Science – Cell-free chemoenzymatic starch synthesis from carbon dioxide