Professor Yilin Hu (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry) has been working with the enzyme nitrogenase, a key enzyme that helps regulate global nitrogen, along with methods to utilize the enzyme to help produce renewable biofuels. Recently, Professor Hu and her team discovered that the reductase component of nitrogenase could convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO), a syngas used to produce useful biofuels and other chemical products, independent of its natural catalytic partner. The full study can be found online in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
Professor Hu and her team also found that they could express the reductase component of nitrogenase alone in the bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii to convert CO2 in a manner that would be more applicable to large scale production of CO, thus rendering it an attractive whole-cell system that could be explored further for new ways of recycling atmospheric CO2 into biofuels and other commercial chemical products.
In addition to Professor Yilin Hu, Dr. Johannes Rebelein, Dr. Martin Stiebritz and Dr. Chi Chung Lee contributed to the study.