By combining semiconducting nanowires and bacteria, researchers can now produce liquid fuel.
Three pioneers in the field of synthetic photosynthesis discuss the potential of this technology and the challenges that must be overcome to make it commonplace.
Imagine creating artificial plants that make gasoline and natural gas using only sunlight. And imagine using those fuels to heat our homes or run our cars without adding any greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. By combining nanoscience and biology, researchers led by scientists at University of California, Berkeley, have taken a big step in that direction.
Peidong Yang, a professor of chemistry at Berkeley and co-director of the school’s Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute, leads a team that has created an artificial leaf that produces methane, the primary component of natural gas, using a combination of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria. The research, detailed in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in August, builds on a similar hybrid system, also recently devised by Yang and his colleagues, that yielded butanol, a component in gasoline, and a variety of biochemical building blocks.
The research is a major advance toward synthetic photosynthesis, a type of solar power based on the ability of plants to transform sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugars. Instead of sugars, however, synthetic photosynthesis seeks to produce liquid fuels that can be stored for months or years and distributed through existing energy infrastructure.
In a roundtable discussion on his recent breakthroughs and the future of synthetic photosynthesis, Yang said his hybrid inorganic/biological systems give researchers new tools to study photosynthesis — and learn its secrets.
“We’re good at generating electrons from light efficiently, but chemical synthesis always limited our systems in the past. One purpose of this experiment was to show we could integrate bacterial catalysts with semiconductor technology. This lets us understand and optimize a truly synthetic photosynthesis system,” he told The Kavli Foundation.
The stakes are high.
“Burning fossil fuels is putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than natural photosynthesis can take it out. A system that pulls every carbon that we burn out of the air and converts it into fuel is truly carbon neutral,” added Thomas Moore, who also participated in the roundtable. Moore is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State University, where he previously headed the Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis.
Ultimately, researchers hope to create an entirely synthetic system that is more robust and efficient than its natural counterpart. To do that, they need model systems to study nature’s best designs, especially the catalysts that convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars at room temperatures.
“This is not about mimicking nature directly or literally,” said Ted Sargent, the vice-dean of research for the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at University of Toronto. He was the third participant in the roundtable.
“Instead, it is about learning nature’s guidelines, its rules on how to make a compellingly efficient and selective catalyst, and then using these insights to create better-engineered solutions.”
“Today, nature has us beat,” Sargent added. “But this is also exciting, because nature proves it’s possible.”
Read more: Artificial ‘plants’ could fuel the future
The Latest on: Artificial photosynthesis
via Google News
The Latest on: Artificial photosynthesis
- Artificial Photosynthesis Market Size, Future Analysis & Opportunity Outlook 2030on May 17, 2022 at 5:58 pm
Research Nester published a report titled “Artificial Photosynthesis Market : Global Demand Analysis & Opportunity Outlook 2030″ ...
- Bacterial biofilms facilitate biocompatible bio-abiotic interfaces for semi-artificial photosynthesison May 9, 2022 at 6:35 am
Semi-artificial photosynthesis integrates the high selectivity of living biosystems and the broad-range light-harvesting of semi-conductive materials, which enables sustainable light-driven ...
- Artificial Photosynthesis Market Estimated to Experience a Hike in Growth by 2031on May 8, 2022 at 10:50 pm
The growing need for clean energy around the globe due to the depleting non-renewable resources may trigger the growth prospects of the artificial photosynthesis market during the forecast period ...
- The Worldwide Artificial Photosynthesis Industry is Expected to Reach $185 Million by 2030 - ResearchAndMarkets.comon May 7, 2022 at 8:36 pm
DUBLIN, April 19, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Worldwide Artificial Photosynthesis Industry to 2030" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The artificial photosynthesis market ...
- Artificial Photosynthesis Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2021-2031on May 6, 2022 at 12:28 am
Artificial Photosynthesis Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2021-2031 ...
- Bacterial Enzyme Converts CO2 Into Carbon Compounds 20x Faster Than Photosynthesison May 5, 2022 at 6:48 am
Researchers discover that a spot of molecular glue and a timely twist help a bacterial enzyme convert carbon dioxide into carbon compounds 20 times faster than plant enzymes do during photosynthesis.
- How a soil microbe could rev up artificial photosynthesison April 29, 2022 at 11:58 am
Erb’s research team had been working to develop bioreactors for artificial photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide (CO 2) from the atmosphere into all sorts of products. As important as ...
- Artificial Photosynthesis Market by Application, Technology and Region - Global Forecast to 2030on April 23, 2022 at 10:55 am
Dublin, April 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The "Artificial Photosynthesis Market by Application (Hydrocarbon, Hydrogen, Chemicals), Technology (Co-Electrolysis, Photo ...
via Bing News