Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Frogs, Foam and Fuel: UC Researchers Convert Solar Energy to Sugars

Illustration by Megan Gundrum, fifth-year DAAP student
Illustration by Megan Gundrum, fifth-year DAAP student

Abstract:
Engineers from the University of Cincinnati devise a foam that captures energy and removes excess carbon dioxide from the air — thanks to semi-tropical frogs.

By: Wendy Beckman

Frogs, Foam and Fuel: UC Researchers Convert Solar Energy to Sugars

Cincinnati, OH | Posted on March 16th, 2010

For decades, farmers have been trying to find ways to get more energy out of the sun.

In natural photosynthesis, plants take in solar energy and carbon dioxide and then convert it to oxygen and sugars. The oxygen is released to the air and the sugars are dispersed throughout the plant — like that sweet corn we look for in the summer. Unfortunately, the allocation of light energy into products we use is not as efficient as we would like. Now engineering researchers at the University of Cincinnati are doing something about that.

The researchers are finding ways to take energy from the sun and carbon from the air to create new forms of biofuels, thanks to a semi-tropical frog species. Their results have just been published online in "Artificial Photosynthesis in Ranaspumin-2 Based Foam" (March 5, 2010) in the journal Nano Letters. (It will be a cover story for the print edition in the fall.)

Research Assistant Professor David Wendell, student Jacob Todd and College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Carlo Montemagno co-authored the paper, based on research in Montemagno's lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Their work focused on making a new artificial photosynthetic material which uses plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes, trapped within a foam housing, to produce sugars from sunlight and carbon dioxide.

Foam was chosen because it can effectively concentrate the reactants but allow very good light and air penetration. The design was based on the foam nests of a semi-tropical frog called the Tungara frog, which creates very long-lived foams for its developing tadpoles.

"The advantage for our system compared to plants and algae is that all of the captured solar energy is converted to sugars, whereas these organisms must divert a great deal of energy to other functions to maintain life and reproduce," says Wendell. "Our foam also uses no soil, so food production would not be interrupted, and it can be used in highly enriched carbon dioxide environments, like the exhaust from coal-burning power plants, unlike many natural photosynthetic systems."

He adds, "In natural plant systems, too much carbon dioxide shuts down photosynthesis, but ours does not have this limitation due to the bacterial-based photo-capture strategy."

There are many benefits to being able to create a plant-like foam.

"You can convert the sugars into many different things, including ethanol and other biofuels," Wendell explains. "And it removes carbon dioxide from the air, but maintains current arable land for food production."

"This new technology establishes an economical way of harnessing the physiology of living systems by creating a new generation of functional materials that intrinsically incorporates life processes into its structure," says Dean Montemagno. "Specifically in this work it presents a new pathway of harvesting solar energy to produce either oil or food with efficiencies that exceed other biosolar production methodologies. More broadly it establishes a mechanism for incorporating the functionality found in living systems into systems that we engineer and build."

The next step for the team will be to try to make the technology feasible for large-scale applications like carbon capture at coal-burning power plants.

"This involves developing a strategy to extract both the lipid shell of the algae (used for biodiesel) and the cytoplasmic contents (the guts), and reusing these proteins in the foam," says Wendell. "We are also looking into other short carbon molecules we can make by altering the enzyme cocktail in the foam."

Montemagno adds, "It is a significant step in delivering the promise of nanotechnology."

####

About University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers students a balance of educational excellence and real-world experience.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Wendy Beckman
(513) 556-1826

Copyright © University of Cincinnati

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Ultrathin, flat lens resolves chirality and color: Multifunctional lens could replace bulky, expensive machines June 25th, 2016

Possible Futures

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Nanotechnology and math deliver two-in-one punch for cancer therapy resistance June 24th, 2016

Academic/Education

JPK’s NanoWizard® AFM and ForceRobot® systems are being used in the field of medical diagnostics in the Supersensitive Molecular Layer Laboratory of POSTECH in Korea June 21st, 2016

Weizmann Institute of Science Presents: Weizmann Wonder Wander - 4G - is Online June 21st, 2016

NanoLabNL boosts quality of research facilities as Dutch Toekomstfonds invests firmly June 10th, 2016

The Institute for Transfusion Medicine at the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen in Germany uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to quantify extracellular vesicles June 7th, 2016

Announcements

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Ultrathin, flat lens resolves chirality and color: Multifunctional lens could replace bulky, expensive machines June 25th, 2016

Environment

The use of nanoparticles and bioremediation to decontaminate polluted soils June 14th, 2016

UQ research accelerates next-generation ultra-precise sensing technology June 10th, 2016

VentureLab nanotechnology startup wins TechConnect Innovation Award June 2nd, 2016

The next generation of carbon monoxide nanosensors May 26th, 2016

Energy

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

FEI and University of Liverpool Announce QEMSCAN Research Initiative: University of Liverpool will utilize FEI’s QEMSCAN technology to gain a better insight into oil and gas reserves & potentially change the approach to evaluating them June 22nd, 2016

Titan shines light on high-temperature superconductor pathway: Simulation demonstrates how superconductivity arises in cuprates' pseudogap phase June 22nd, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic