Designing photobioreactors based on living cells immobilized in silica gel for carbon dioxide mitigation

J.C. Rooke, A. Léonard, C.F. Meunier, B.-L. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been rising since the industrial revolution, with the most dramatic increase occurring since the end of World War II. Carbon dioxide is widely regarded as one of the major factors contributing to the greenhouse effect, which is of major concern in today's society because it leads to global warming. Photosynthesis is Nature's tool for combating elevated carbon dioxide levels. In essence, photosynthesis allows a cell to harvest solar energy and convert it into chemical energy through the assimilation of carbon dioxide and water. Therefore photosynthesis is regarded as an ideal way to harness the abundance of solar energy that reaches Earth and convert anthropologically generated carbon dioxide into useful carbohydrates, providing a much more sustainable energy source. This Minireview aims to tackle the idea of immobilizing photosynthetic unicellular organisms within inert silica frameworks, providing protection both to the fragile cells and to the external ecosystem, and to use this resultant living hybrid material in a photobioreactor. The viability and activity of various unicellular organisms are summarized alongside design issues of a photobioreactor based on living hybrid materials. Do not pass Go: Photosynthesis, nature's renewable energy source, can convert carbon dioxide originating from the combustion of fossil fuels into useful compounds. This Minireview highlights the possibility of designing a photobioreactor based on the immobilization of photosynthetically active unicellular organisms within silica gels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1257
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2011


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