The release of greenhouse gasses like CO2 is a significant cause of global warming, and the first step in the process of reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be to find more efficient engines which will pump less CO2 into the atmosphere. Plants also suck up almost 25% of the carbon dioxide from the air by a process known as photosynthesis.
The second stage of photosynthesis involves an enzyme called RuBisCO which acts as a catalyst in the process of photosynthesis. However, this process is inefficient and very slow. So if the process can be quickened and the carbon fixation did synthetically, it can soak large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and change it into other carbon compounds.
This is the logic of a team of German scientists who have perfected a process to fix carbon from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon products. It is very fast than the natural process and much more energy efficient.
The drawback in the Calvin cycle during photosynthesis according to lead researcher Tobias Erb from the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is that it is very slow and also holds the whole process for a very long time. It often trips and mixes CO2 with Oxygen which further slows the carbon absorption.
Hence the team started to pore over all the enzymes to pick out an enzyme which is better than RuBisCO. The team sifted through more than 40,000 enzymes; some enzymes was found in the human gut, some from a microorganism which lives in the oceans and from plants. They were able to find 17 different enzymes which were sourced from nine different organisms and then engineered in a new 11 stage process which mimics the Calvin cycle but with much better efficiency and quicker. The 17 enzyme are supercharged enzymes known as ECR and are capable of fixing the CO2 at rates, which is 20 times faster than the natural process of photosynthesis.