Hydrocarbons via photosynthesis

Custom-designed fed-batch bioreactor for diffusion-based gas exchange and terpene hydrocarbons production. A 100% carbon dioxide gas stream was slowly fed into the gaseous/aqueous two-phase bioreactor via the aerator tube to fill the reactor headspace. Efficient and spontaneous uptake and assimilation of headspace carbon dioxide by the cells occurred by diffusion and was concomitantly exchanged for photosynthetically produced oxygen and terpene hydrocarbons during photoautotrophic growth. Beta-phellandrene hydrocarbons accumulate as floater molecules on the surface of the aqueous phase in the sealed bioreactor. (From Bentley and Melis, 2012.)

and preserved remains of plant and animal matter whose carbon originated via photosynthesis
Photo provided by Flickr

The driving force in the process is charge separation: the ability to keep the charges spaced, instead of recombining them and emitting heat. When plants absorb light energy, a supply of electrons is released. In Sweden, there is extensive research on artificial photosynthesis.

20/12/2017 · Hydrocarbons via pho..

describe how the carbon atoms in CO 2 absorbed via plant photosynthesis provide the carbon atoms for all of the new ..
Photo provided by Flickr

The third way carbon reenters the cycle is through us burning fossil fuels. When we do this, carbon dioxide and water are release into the atmosphere and taken up by plants for use in photosynthesis. Of course, not all of the carbon is immediately taken back up. Some of it remains in the atmosphere, increasing levels of atmosphere carbon dioxide and contributing to the greenhouse effect.

This is a brief overview of the carbon cycle and the process ..

We study the photosynthesis of plants, microalgae, cyanobacteria, and photosynthetic bacteria. Approaches include biophysics and biochemistry of the process, molecular biology and genetics of the organisms, and scale ups for product generation. Applied aspects include diverting the flow of photosynthesis to generate high-value compounds instead of the normally produced sugars. Products of interest are biofuels, feedstock for the synthetic chemistry industry and pharmaceuticals. Our trademark is product generation directly from photosynthesis, bypassing the need to harvest and process the respective biomass.

The essential components of hydrocarbons ..

The expertise of the Melis lab is in the field of photosynthesis and metabolism. We work with land plants, microalgae, cyanobacteria, and non-oxygenic (anaerobic) photosynthetic bacteria. Our platform includes most aspects of photosynthesis, beginning with organism cultivation, the efficiency of light absorption and utilization, electron transport and biochemical energy generation, and chloroplast and cellular metabolism. Included are the biophysics and biochemistry of the process, the molecular biology and genetics of the organisms, as well as scale ups in the cultivation of the various organisms for product generation.

The concept of “Photosynthetic Biofuels”, envisioned and pioneered by us, entails the direct application of photosynthesis for the generation of fuels and related chemicals, in a process where a single organism acts both as catalyst and processor, synthesizing and secreting ready to use commodity products.

The lab contributed with a breakthrough in the field, when in 2000 we demonstrated, for the first time, how to divert the natural flow of photosynthesis in green microalgae and to sustainably generate hydrogen gas, instead of the normally produced oxygen. This technology is currently employed by many laboratories in several countries, and serves as the platform for further photobiological hydrogen production research in the field.

The Melis lab also pioneered and currently leads an international effort to improve, by up to 300%, the efficiency and productivity of photosynthesis in mass cultures under bright sunlight conditions. This is implemented upon genetically optimizing the size of the array of chlorophyll molecules that serve as antennae to absorb sunlight for the photosynthetic apparatus.

In 2010, the Melis lab pioneered yet a new platform for the renewable generation of isoprene (C5H8) hydrocarbons in cyanobacteria and microalgae, derived entirely from sunlight, carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O), and generated immediately from the primary products of photosynthesis. The process of generating isoprene currently serves as a case study in the development of technologies for the renewable generation of a multitude of biofuels and other useful bio-products.