Researchers Pin Hopes On Artificial Photosynthesis For Cleaner, Greener Environment

By Kamal Nayan - 17 Apr '15 00:33AM

A system of artificial photosynthesis can collect carbon dioxide before it escapes into out atmosphere and turns it into useful products including drugs and alternative fuels, according to researchers.

The technology has been made possible through a hybrid of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that can take in carbon dioxide and use solar energy to convert it into pharmaceutical drugs, biodegradable plastics or liquid fuels.

The system has been developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.

The system mimics the natural photosynthesis but the CO2 and water are used to synthesis acetate.

"We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis," says study leader Peidong Yang, a chemist at the Berkeley Lab. "Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground."

"We are currently working on our second-generation system which has a solar-to-chemical conversion efficiency of 3 percent," Yang added. "Once we can reach a conversion efficiency of 10 percent in a cost-effective manner, the technology should be commercially viable."

The report was published in the journal Nano Letters.

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