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Microfluidic Reactors for Carbon Fixation under Ambient-Pressure Alkaline-Hydrothermal-Vent Conditions

1
RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan
2
Systems Biophysics, Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Munich 80799, Germany
3
Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin. Wallotstr. 19, Berlin 14193, Germany
4
Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
5
Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, Seattle, WA 98154, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 25 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract

The alkaline-hydrothermal-vent theory for the origin of life predicts the spontaneous reduction of CO2, dissolved in acidic ocean waters, with H2 from the alkaline vent effluent. This reaction would be catalyzed by Fe(Ni)S clusters precipitated at the interface, which effectively separate the two fluids into an electrochemical cell. Using microfluidic reactors, we set out to test this concept. We produced thin, long Fe(Ni)S precipitates of less than 10 µm thickness. Mixing simplified analogs of the acidic-ocean and alkaline-vent fluids, we then tested for the reduction of CO2. We were unable to detect reduced carbon products under a number of conditions. As all of our reactions were performed at atmospheric pressure, the lack of reduced carbon products may simply be attributable to the low concentration of hydrogen in our system, suggesting that high-pressure reactors may be a necessity. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; abiogenesis; carbon fixation; hydrothermal vents; electrochemistry; reduction origin of life; abiogenesis; carbon fixation; hydrothermal vents; electrochemistry; reduction
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Sojo, V.; Ohno, A.; McGlynn, S.E.; Yamada, Y.M.; Nakamura, R. Microfluidic Reactors for Carbon Fixation under Ambient-Pressure Alkaline-Hydrothermal-Vent Conditions. Life 2019, 9, 16.

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