2 Shenzhen scientific advances included on national top 10 list

Writer: Chen Siqi  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-01-17

Two scientific achievements developed by Shenzhen institutions were listed among the country’s top 10 scientific advances for 2022, marking the notable progress in the city’s original innovation capability.

The list, which was unveiled Thursday, was selected by members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE). Academicians from the CAS and CAE hold China’s highest national academic titles in science and engineering.

On the list, two advances from stood out.

Scientists from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a new way to translate carbon dioxide and water into glucose and fatty acids, proposing a new strategy for artificial food production.

The technique comes after another group of researchers in China successfully synthesized starch from carbon dioxide in 2021 that offered a new approach for artificial or semi-artificial food production.

Published on Nature Catalysis in April — a monthly, online-only science journal incorporating the best research from all areas of catalysis — the researchers introduced a hybrid electro-biosystem.

The system couples spatially separate carbon dioxide electrolysis with yeast fermentation, which efficiently converts carbon dioxide into glucose with a high yield.

The researchers employed a nano-structured copper catalyst that can stably catalyze pure acetic acid from carbon dioxide, and then used genetically engineered yeast to produce glucose in vitro from electro-generated acetic acid.

Another scientific achievement is developed by the CAE academician Xie Heping’s team from Shenzhen University, which filled the vacancy of the theory and technology on hydrogen production by direct electrolysis of seawater.

Due to the shortness of fresh water, using seawater to develop hydrogen energy is an important direction in the future. However, seawater hydrogen production faces difficulties and challenges because of seawater’s complicated components (with about 92 chemical elements).

Xie and his team raised a new theory and technology on hydrogen generation from their new ideas of combining physical mechanics and electrochemistry. The tech thoroughly isolates seawater ions and uses breakthrough electrolysis hydrogen production technology without needing to desalinate the seawater input.

A reviewer from Nature commented on the study, saying that the work of this paper radically addresses the side-reaction and corrosion problems in seawater hydrogen production and will lower the cost of fuel generation.