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ISSN: 2157-7544
Journal of Thermodynamics & Catalysis
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Industrial CO2 Removal Using Carbonic Anhydrase: Potential, Promise and Challenges

Brian P Mahon and Robert McKenna*
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA
Corresponding Author : Robert McKenna
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
College of Medicine, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA
Tel: 3523925696
E-mail: [email protected]
Received December 17, 2015; Accepted December 19, 2015; Published December 27, 2015
Citation: Mahon BP, McKenna R (2015) Industrial CO2 Removal Using Carbonic Anhydrase: Potential, Promise and Challenges. J Thermodyn Catal 6:156. doi:10.4172/2157-7544.1000156
Copyright: © 2015 Mahon BP, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), chloroflourocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide have been rising considerably due to human-induced processes [1]. One of the most abundant of the GHG is CO2, and a main contributor to a rise in global temperatures [2]. The burning of fossil fuels has sharply increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and has been correlated with increased global temperatures over the past century [3,4]. This presents a global threat that has recently been addressed by world leaders in the Paris Climate Talks [5] promoting an extensive effort to limit CO2 production in industrial processes and to slow the rate of climate change. Despite the recognition of these issues, implementation of large scale CO2 removal from the burning fossil-fuels has been limited [6]. Most of this is due to the use of harsh chemical processes and extreme temperatures to remove CO2, which translates to an energy and cost inefficient process [4,7]. Therefore, more efficient CO2 removal processes must be implemented. One such potential avenue is the utilization of enzymatic CO2 sequestration [8]. Specifically, the use of the enzyme, carbonic anhydrase (CA) for CO2 removal (CDR) has shown promise for its catalytic efficiency and its ability to be produced in large quantities from recombinant technology [7,9-11].
However, for a successful CA-mediated CDR, the enzyme must maintain its catalytic efficiency in extreme conditions, such as high temperature (up to 80°C), pressure, extreme pH levels (between pH 3 – 11), and more recently, resistance to anionic inhibition [10,12-16]. Furthermore, a mechanism to feasibly incorporate a CA-mediated CDR step in the fossil-fuel combustion process needs to be developed. To date, several possibilities have come in the form of CO2 absorbers containing immobilized CA resins, or bioreactors containing algae that over express CA, all of which have been extensively reviewed by Frost and McKenna et al. [17]. A model depicting a CA-mediated CO2 absorber is depicted in Figure 1 with favorable biochemical and biophysical characteristics of the enzyme highlighted.
Our group and others, have made efforts to characterize CAs from organisms that thrive in extreme environments [15,18] and utilize these biochemical and biophysical characteristics to engineer thermal and pH stable CA variants [11,19-21], to address the need for a suitable bio-catalytic CDR agent. Previously it has been shown: that truncating surface loops, the present of an intramolecular disulfide bond, and dimerization allows CA to maintain its catalytic activity at 70°C, and a range of pH (from pH 5-9) [15,20]. In addition, it has been shown that the presents of charged residues in the catalytic site of CA can contribute to the reduction in anionic inhibition (common anions found in fossil-fuel by-products and their CA inhibition constants are shown in Table 1). Although these parameters still fall short of the ideal characteristics of a CA-mediated CDR agent, they provide us with avenues which we can further exploit to engineer a useful candidate to reduce fossil-fuel produced CO2 emissions. Future studies will includes implementing an enzymatic design of an oligomeric and compact CA, that exhibits resistance to anionic inhibition, and retains its activity in a range of pH from 3-11 and temperatures up to 80°C (Figure 1) [13-16,18]. These results can further be combined with current designs to implement a CA-mediated CDR system and provide an energy and cost efficient process to limit atmospheric CO2. With the current global dependency on fossil-fuels for energy production, CA may provide a means to reduce human induced climate change.

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