Month: June 2023

2023/06: China in Africa: “Egypt-2” satellite prototype inaugurated, and paintings by African teenagers exhibited in China’s space station

http://j.people.com.cn/n3/2023/0628/c95952-20036937-3.html On June 25 at the Space City Satellite Assembly, Integration, and Test (AIT) Center in Egypt, a prototype of the “Egypt-2” satellite was inaugurated. With this handover, Egypt became the first African country with satellite assembly, integration, and testing capabilities. Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said, “This year marks the 10th anniversary of the advocacy of ‘One Belt, One Road’. The Egyptian Aid-2 project is a symbolic achievement of the joint construction of One Belt, One Road by China and Egypt, and has significance as a milestone in the field of space cooperation between the two countries. Egypt became the first country for China to hand over an international satellite cooperation project abroad, the first country to conduct a large-scale test of a complete satellite outside of China, and the first African country to have full satellite AIT capability. China will train Egyptian personnel in project implementation. Egypt will be deeply involved in the design, testing, assembly, and evaluation of the satellite, and will have its own measurement and control. The related cooperation will lay a solid foundation for the development of Egypt’s space program and will also drive the development of space technology on the African continent.” Sharif Sedki, chief executive officer of the Egyptian Space Agency, said, “The AIT Center with Chinese support will develop the localization of the satellite industry, and Egypt will now play a leading role in the transfer of satellite technology to Africa. Egypt-2 will be able to provide high-resolution images and contribute to the ‘Sustainable Development Strategy-Egypt Vision 2030′”. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202305/1291574.shtml China’s Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship successfully launched on May 30 carried ten paintings by teenagers from 10 African countries. The 10 paintings came from a “My Dream” Painting Competition for African Youth, which was co-hosted by Chinese embassies and consulates in African countries and received drawings from 2,000 African youths. The theme of the competition was mankind’s dream of exploring the vast universe.

Upcycling of high-density polyethylene into lower hydrocarbons by Ru nanoparticles on zeolitic HZSM-5

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-023-01429-9 https://www.cas.cn/cm/202306/t20230629_4918322.shtml Professor Zeng Jie’s group at the University of Science and Technology of China has made a breakthrough in the field of plastic recycling and upgrading. The researchers devised a “hydrogen breathing” strategy to convert high-density polyethylene plastics into high-value-added cyclic hydrocarbons without adding additional hydrogen or solvents, providing a new method for the “artificial carbon cycle” of waste plastics. The research results have been published in the international academic journal Nature Nanotechnology. Catalytic reforming is an important tool in petroleum processing that converts light gasoline fractions into aromatic-rich, high-octane gasoline, or chemical feedstocks such as benzene, toluene and xylene, and produces hydrogen. Hydrogen is produced during catalytic reforming and consumed during hydrocracking. If these two processes are applied to polyethylene degradation in tandem, it is equivalent to letting the plastic “exhale” hydrogen while allowing the plastic to “inhale” hydrogen to crack into short chains by dehydrogenating the rings into cyclic hydrocarbons. This strategy uses polyethylene’s own hydrogen atoms to replace additional hydrogen, which not only reduces costs, but also saves energy and reduces emissions. Most importantly, the process also breaks the stable carbon skeleton in polyethylene, making the molecular chain segments shorter, and the resulting product is a cyclic hydrocarbon, which has a higher value than chain hydrocarbons. Acidic sites can promote the cyclization of olefins into cyclic hydrocarbons. The researchers introduced a molecular sieve with acidic sites as a carrier to the original ruthenium metal catalyst. They found that the new catalyst could smoothly catalyse dehydrocyclization of polyethylene and release hydrogen to trigger the subsequent hydrocracking process. Under the action of the molecular sieve-loaded ruthenium catalyst, the waste polyethylene plastic was gradually degraded. Finally, after 24 hours of catalytic reaction, the conversion rate of HDPE plastic reached 69.6%, where the main degradation product was liquid cyclic hydrocarbons. Cyclic hydrocarbons are one of the high value-added chemicals that can be used in a wide range of applications as raw materials for the synthesis of drugs, dyes, resins and fibers. In the future, they hope to develop catalysts that do not contain the precious metal ruthenium to further reduce the cost of catalysts, while introducing co-reactants that are large in volume and cheap and easily available in nature to continuously improve the value of the products.

CAS QIBEBT engineers cyanobacteria to secrete 70% of fixed CO2 as glucose

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-39222-w https://english.cas.cn/newsroom/research_news/life/202306/t20230626_332506.shtml Glucose is the most abundant monosaccharide, serving as an essential energy source for cells and as an important feedstock for the biorefinery industry. The plant-biomass-sugar route dominates the current glucose supply, while it is influenced by multiple parameters, such as plant-cultivation cycles, biomass-collection radius, and pre-treatment costs. Against the backdrop of global climate crisis and worsening food shortages, developing more efficient, continual, and industrial glucose production routes is needed. However, direct conversion of carbon dioxide into glucose through natural photosynthesis process has not made a breakthrough for a long time. A research team led by Prof. LU Xuefeng and Prof. LUAN Guodong from the CAS Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) identified key factors restricting natural potential of cyanobacteria to directly convert carbon dioxide into glucose and constructed efficient glucose synthesizing photosynthetic cell factories. In photoautotrophs, e.g., higher plants and algae, glucose is synthesized as storage for carbon and energy. Glucose metabolism possesses complex interactions with photosystems, disturbs the synthesis and metabolism of pigments, and may even inhibit photosynthetic activities. Therefore, free glucose is rarely synthesized or accumulated in excess in photosynthetic cellular metabolism. The research team utilized Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 as the chassis and identified native glucokinase activity as the bottleneck restricting metabolism potential for glucose synthesis. Targeted knockout of two glucokinase genes disturbed the carbohydrate metabolism and activated a metabolic flux towards glucose through the sucrose metabolism network. The enhanced glucose synthesis promoted the enrichment of a specific spontaneous genomic mutation on the chromosome of PCC 7942, which facilitates efficient glucose secretion. The researchers further clarified the pathways and mutations leading to glucose synthesis and secretion and optimized the recombinant strains’ glucose synthesis performances. Through subsequent metabolic engineering and cultivation optimization, the glucose secreted by the engineered strain surpasses 5 g/L during long-term cultivation, accounting for up to 70% of the fixed carbon source. “This is the first successful attempt to construct a direct link between natural photosynthesis and stable glucose synthesis,” said Prof. LU. “Our findings shed light on developing and industrializing more directional and continuous glucose production systems with solar energy and carbon dioxide.”

Diversity and impact of broad host range plasmids in human gut

https://academic.oup.com/nar/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nar/gkad498/7191423 https://english.cas.cn/newsroom/research_news/life/202306/t20230626_332439.shtml Human gut hosts a complex ecosystem comprising an intricate plasmidome with abundant undiscovered plasmids, driving horizontal gene transfer events. Broad host range (BHR) plasmids carrying fitness genes transfer between bacteria across distantly phylogenetic taxa, facilitating the adaptation of their hosts to varying environments. However, accurate identification of BHR plasmids in the gut is still difficult, and their host range and prevalence remain unclear. A research team led by Prof. MA Yingfei from the CAS Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT)  has identified and characterized plasmids harbored by human gut bacterial isolates from culturomics-based studies. The researchers have revealed their accurate host range, persistence in human gut, accessory genes, prevalence across various environments, and transmission and evolutionary trajectories in detail. The researchers assembled 820 plasmid-like clusters (PLCs) with high-completeness genomes (comPLCs). The majority of PLCs (81.1%) were classified to known replicon types, which suggested gut plasmids were highly diverse and novel. They found that 175 comPLCs had a broad host range across distinct bacterial genera, of which, 71 were detected in at least two human populations from four distant countries, and 13 were highly prevalent (>10%) in at least one human population. They observed that the broadest PLC (Clstr-417) could spread among the isolates collected from Chinese donors and American donors of 24 genera across five phyla. And some PLCs are so ubiquitous that can even be detected in different species and environmental sewage. The evolutionary trajectory showed that the BHR plasmid spread between the phyla and the environment was extremely rapid, with all transmission times occurring 0-10 years ago and colonizing the individual gut multiple times. BHR plasmids may also have great potential to edit the genome of commensal gut microbes and bacteriophages that suffer from lacking editing tools.

China-supported “Egypt-2” satellite prototype inaugurated

http://j.people.com.cn/n3/2023/0628/c95952-20036937-3.html On June 25 at the Space City Satellite Assembly, Integration, and Test (AIT) Center in Egypt, a prototype of the “Egypt-2” satellite was inaugurated. With this handover, Egypt became the first African country with satellite assembly, integration, and testing capabilities. Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said, “This year marks the 10th anniversary of the advocacy of ‘One Belt, One Road’. The Egyptian Aid-2 project is a symbolic achievement of the joint construction of One Belt, One Road by China and Egypt, and has significance as a milestone in the field of space cooperation between the two countries. Egypt became the first country for China to hand over an international satellite cooperation project abroad, the first country to conduct a large-scale test of a complete satellite outside of China, and the first African country to have full satellite AIT capability. China will train Egyptian personnel in project implementation. Egypt will be deeply involved in the design, testing, assembly, and evaluation of the satellite, and will have its own measurement and control. The related cooperation will lay a solid foundation for the development of Egypt’s space program and will also drive the development of space technology on the African continent.” Sharif Sedki, chief executive officer of the Egyptian Space Agency, said, “The AIT Center with Chinese support will develop the localization of the satellite industry, and Egypt will now play a leading role in the transfer of satellite technology to Africa. Egypt-2 will be able to provide high-resolution images and contribute to the ‘Sustainable Development Strategy-Egypt Vision 2030′”.

Offshore CCUS facility starts off Shenzhen

http://j.people.com.cn/n3/2023/0602/c95952-20027001.html According to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), China’s first CO2 storage model project started operation on June 1 at the “Onping 15-1” platform, located about 200 km southwest of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Carbon dioxide (CO2) generated from oil field development is captured, separated, and pressurized until it reached a supercritical state of liquid/gas mixture, and then reinjected at a rate of about 9 tons per hour through a CO2 reinjection well into a saline dynamic layer over 800 meters on the seafloor 3 km from the platform. The formation where the CO2 is reinjected has a ‘dome-shaped’ geological structure. This geological structure is shaped like a giant overturned vessel and has natural sealing properties that allow for long-term stable storage of CO2. The project is capable of storing 300,000 tons of CO2 each year, and is expected to exceed 1.5 million tons in total. This is equivalent to planting nearly 14 million trees. The Eunpyeong 15-1 platform is the largest offshore crude oil production platform in Asia, with a working water depth of approximately 80 meters, and a peak oil production rate of over 7,000 tons per day. The CO2 concentration of the associated gas from “Eunping 15-1” is as high as 95%. If developed in the normal way, CO2 will be released along with crude oil to the surface, which will not only corrode offshore platform facilities and subsea pipelines, but also increase China’s CO2 emissions. Therefore, China Sea Oil implemented a CO2 storage model project in the “Onping 15-1” oil field.

CCUS facility in operation at a Taizhou coal-fired power plant

http://en.people.cn/n3/2023/0613/c90000-20031021.html Asia’s largest carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) facility for the coal-fired power generation sector was put into operation in Jiangsu province. The facility, attached to a generation unit at China Energy’s Taizhou coal-fired power plant, is expected to capture 500,000 tons of CO2 every year, which will be wildly used in the industrial and food sectors. The CO2 capture rate of the CCUS facility in the plant stands at over 90 percent, and produces CO2 at 99 percent purity with a dry base technique.

5G Base Station Installed on Offshore Wind Power Platform in Guangdong Province

http://j.people.com.cn/n3/2023/0614/c95952-20031539.html Guangdong Mobile, the Guangdong branch of China Mobile, recently installed a 700 megahertz (Mhz) 5G base station on a near-shore deep-water area offshore wind power platform in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China, in collaboration with Yangjiang Huadeng. The base station is the first application of 700Mhz 5G network technology in the near-shore deep-water area in Guangdong Province, and has the advantages of low signal attenuation, high transmission, wide coverage, and low network construction cost. Through the dedicated 5G network, the “smart wind farm” will be constructed by performing distant monitoring, artificial intelligence (AI) glass recognition, smart inspection of wind turbine blades by 5G network-connected drones, and smart patrol by offshore robots.

Paintings by African teenagers exhibited in China’s space station

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202305/1291574.shtml China’s Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship successfully launched on May 30 carried ten paintings by teenagers from 10 African countries. The 10 paintings came from a “My Dream” Painting Competition for African Youth, which was co-hosted by Chinese embassies and consulates in African countries and received drawings from 2,000 African youths. The theme of the competition was mankind’s dream of exploring the vast universe.

Tadjikistan obtains observation station for B&R climate, environment starts operation

https://english.news.cn/20230616/f56a5cf975bb4d44b1767766560a7ea6/c.html The first outside-China super observation station for climate and the environment along the Belt and Road (B&R) has started operation in Tajikistan, according to the Lanzhou University. This observation station in Shaartuz, Tajikistan, provides comprehensive observation data for dust, pollutants and meteorological elements in key areas of Central Asia, said Huang Jianping, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor at Lanzhou University. It can provide warnings for meteorological disasters and countermeasures to climate change, said Huang. The station is a part of the B&R climate and environment observation network, which was initiated by the Lanzhou University and jointly constructed by the government authorities and institutions of China and other countries. Initiated in 2016, the observation network starts in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China’s Gansu Province, with more than 20 designed stations along the B&R countries and regions. By now, seven stations in China and one in Pakistan’s Peshawar city have been launched, said Huang Zhongwei, a professor with the Lanzhou University. The network can monitor the long-distance transmission of sand, dust and the local diffusion law of atmospheric complex pollutants, serving socio-economic development and playing roles in global climate-change study and diverse other fields.

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