Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Artificial Photosynthesis versus Greenhouse Gas

Abstract:
Welcome to one of our guest columns, where active researchers can share their views on topics relevant to materials science. Professor Geoffrey Ozin from the University of Toronto talks about why artificial photosynthesis is a goal and challenge and how nanochemistry can help.

Artificial Photosynthesis versus Greenhouse Gas

Toronto, Canada | Posted on August 29th, 2011

Discovering and understanding chemistry that enables the transformation of atmospheric O2 and N2 into useful materials has been an area of intense scientific and technological interest for more than a century. There have been numerous successes, perhaps the most notable of which are abiological mimics of nature's hemoglobin (oxygen-transport iron-containing protein) and nitrogenase (nitrogen-fixation iron-molybdenum-containing enzyme), both of which serve to sustain life on earth, but there are still many natural processes that we are unable to successfully replicate in the lab, perhaps the most fundamental and challenging of which is photosynthesis.

Nature's photosynthesis apparatus housed in plants, certain algae and bacteria, utilizes atmospheric CO2 + H2O + sunlight to provide humanity with oxygen to breath, food to eat, and fuel to satisfy the world's energy needs; however a catalyst that can produce fuel at a globally meaningful efficiency from sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide and water has not yet been discovered.

The invention and development of a practical artificial photosynthetic machine is perhaps humanity's most important 21st century grand challenge.

To amplify in the context of learning nature's secrets and transforming them in the laboratory into useful technologies, it is impressive that atmospheric CO2 can be so efficiently converted by plants into energy-rich sugars, yet efforts to devise similar reactions in the laboratory have had limited success. The driving force for accomplishing this is now greater than ever in the face of the present energy and climate crises, which threaten the very existence of humanity.

Indeed the greatest mission facing humankind in the 21st century will likely be to discover a straightforward, scalable, safe, and cost-effective means to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to curb the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere from burning these fuels.

Recall the old adage "nature did it first"; in the case of photosynthesis this is certainly apt with respect to the energy and climate problems facing humanity today. If we could learn how to mimic the way green plants make energy-rich fuels from CO2 + H2O + sunlight by inventing an artificial leaf made of earth-abundant elements that recycles atmospheric CO2 to energy-rich fuels at rates and efficiencies equal to or greater than photosynthesis and can be manufactured economically as solar fuel machines for integration into homes, buildings industrial plants and non-arable land, then we could be weaned off our reliance on fossil fuels that currently power our world and eliminate the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions on our planet—sounds like a magic bullet!

You can imagine this idea it not new and not surprisingly has grown in importance recently as governments around the world panic over the energy and climate crisis. In a valiant attempt to "save the planet," billions of dollars are being invested globally on research programs and centers that purport to be working on artificial photosynthesis.

It seems to me however, that much of the work in this area is actually focused on sunlight-powered electrolysis of water to create H2 as an energy-rich transportable fuel for making electricity, and, to the best of my knowledge, photoelectrochemical splitting of H2O into H2 and O2 driven entirely by sunlight does not occur in nature, but requires an additional fuel input (i.e., glucose), ultimately leading to the production of CO2 as an undesirable byproduct. This process occurs in certain species of algae and cyanobacteria under anaerobic conditions using the hydrogenase metalloenzyme, and its optimization through genetic engineering is actively being investigated. While these activities are undeniably very important and could help realize the dream of a green hydrogen economy, they differ fundamentally from the photosynthetic leaf where the only required chemical feed-stocks are CO2 and H2O, which is desirable both economically and environmentally as it consumes CO2 rather than producing it.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Wiley-VCH Materials Science Journals

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

NanoTechnology for Defense (NT4D) October 22nd, 2014

Mechanism behind nature's sparkles revealed October 22nd, 2014

TARA Biosystems and Harris & Harris Group Form Company to Improve Safety and Efficacy of New Therapies October 22nd, 2014

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity October 22nd, 2014

Chemistry

Could I squeeze by you? Ames Laboratory scientists model molecular movement within narrow channels of mesoporous nanoparticles October 21st, 2014

Non-Toxic Nanocatalysts Open New Window for Significant Decrease in Reaction Process October 19th, 2014

QD Vision Wins Prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency October 16th, 2014

Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven October 14th, 2014

Discoveries

Bipolar Disorder Discovery at the Nano Level: Tiny structures found in brain synapses help scientists better understand disorder October 22nd, 2014

NIST offers electronics industry 2 ways to snoop on self-organizing molecules October 22nd, 2014

Mechanism behind nature's sparkles revealed October 22nd, 2014

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity October 22nd, 2014

Announcements

NanoTechnology for Defense (NT4D) October 22nd, 2014

Mechanism behind nature's sparkles revealed October 22nd, 2014

TARA Biosystems and Harris & Harris Group Form Company to Improve Safety and Efficacy of New Therapies October 22nd, 2014

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity October 22nd, 2014

Energy

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity October 22nd, 2014

Could I squeeze by you? Ames Laboratory scientists model molecular movement within narrow channels of mesoporous nanoparticles October 21st, 2014

First Canada Excellence Research Chair gets $10 million from the federal government for oilsands research at the University of Calgary: Federal government announces prestigious research chair to study improving oil production efficiency October 19th, 2014

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways October 16th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways October 16th, 2014

Dyesol Signs Letter of Intent with Tata Steel October 13th, 2014

DNA nano-foundries cast custom-shaped metal nanoparticles: DNA's programmable assembly is leveraged to form precise 3D nanomaterials for disease detection, environmental testing, electronics and beyond October 10th, 2014

Over 100 European experts meet in Barcelona thanks to a COST Action coordinated from ICN2: The ISOS-7 Summit discusses the future of organic photovoltaic devices October 7th, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE