A pioneering NASA Mars contest to make sugar from CO2
While there are significant efforts for CO2 conversion to fuels and chemicals, of recent interest has been efforts for converting CO2 to sugar.
It has even got NASA interested – so much that it recently held an exciting contest for making sugar from CO2.
Why should NASA bother? Aren’t they the real rocket science guys, while down-to-earth simpletons like plants have been converting CO2 to sugar for almost 500 million years, and at little cost?
Hold your horses for a moment, will you?
The CO2 to sugar conversion through the bio-mechanism that plants use can also be replicated using similar enzymes. But what about CO2 conversion to sugars without using microbes? That would make it an abiotic pathway – implying it has to be thermochemical or electrochemical, and for those a bit more ambitious, photochemical routes.
This exploration of abiotic sugar production from CO2 is not of just academic interest, not at least to NASA. Because, such an abiotic pathway could be useful for space travellers to Mars make sugars from CO2 and feed these sugars to microbes, which in turn can produce the food the folks need while on Mars (whose atmosphere, by the way, is 95% CO2, and gets about half the solar irradiance that earth does).
That is, instead of relying on microbes to produce the sugars, the effort is to grow microbes using sugar. But how can this sugar be produced from CO2 without microbes?
Sugars had not been produced abiotically until now from CO2. At least no one seemed to have tried it seriously – perhaps because it was nobody’s problem. So this would be pioneering, if someone could indeed accomplish it.
And someone did. Not one, but three teams.
All three from California. Here’s a more detailed report
Read other innovations & insighta for CO2 to value from CLIMAX – https://lnkd.in/gvDfnevp
Wilson Hago – Hago Energetics