Solar-Powered Artificial Photosynthesis

Artificial process can convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals

#Science

Tue, Apr 21st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and the University of California have devised a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions prior to being released into the atmosphere and convert them into biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.

“In natural photosynthesis, leaves harvest solar energy and carbon dioxide is reduced and combined with water for the synthesis of molecular products that form biomass,” says Chris Chang, an expert in catalysts for carbon-neutral energy conversions. “In our system, nanowires harvest solar energy and deliver electrons to bacteria, where carbon dioxide is reduced and combined with water for the synthesis of a variety of targeted, value-added chemical products.”

By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, the new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.

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