Artificial photosynthesis is a chemical process that replicates the natural process of photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. The term is commonly used to refer to any scheme for capturing and storing the energy from sunlight in the chemical bonds of a fuel. Photocatalytic water splitting converts water into protons and oxygen, and is a main research area in artificial photosynthesis. Light-driven carbon dioxide reduction is another studied process, replicating natural carbon fixation.
The consortium was built with a multidisciplinary approach to focus on learning from natural photosynthesis and applying this knowledge in biomimetic systems. Research in artificial photosynthesis is undergoing a boom at the beginning of the 21st century. In 2000, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) researchers publicize their intent to focus on carbon dioxide capture and conversion to hydrocarbons. In 2003, the Brookhaven National Laboratory announced the discovery of an important intermediate step in the reduction of CO2 to CO , which could lead to better catalyst designing.
An artificial leaf that could ..
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and redox mediators"
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atomic structure of photosystem II"
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"" Tsunehiro Tanaka
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Rienk van Grondelle
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WIRED Energy 2017: The leading thinkers paving the way
One drinking- for an entire household in the developing world if Dan Nocera has his way. A chemist from M.I.T. and founder of the company Sun Catalytix, Nocera has developed a cobalt-based catalyst that allows him to store energy the same way plants do: by splitting water.
"Almost all the solar energy is stored in water splitting," Nocera told the on March 2. Solar Catalytix is among five companies awarded government funding to develop "direct solar fuels," dubbed "electrofuels" by ARPA-E, the new . "We emulated photosynthesis for large-scale storage of solar energy."
According to Nocera, his new system can work at ambient temperatures and pressures, without corrosion in a simple glass of water, even polluted water. "If you need pure , they'll drink it," Nocera said. "Use puddle water instead." In fact, Nocera has been running his prototype on untreated water from the Charles River in Boston. And it's cheap, not $12,000 per kilowatt like commercial electrolyzers that do the same thing. "That's not going to help the energy situation for the U.S. or poor people of the world."
Using the electricity generated by a five meters by six meters, Nocera claims he can split enough water in less than four hours "to store enough energy for the average American home" for a day, a little more than 30 kilowatt-hours. "We need to stop making big energy systems one a time to service lots of people. We need to do it the old American way of making one small one and then manufacturing that system to give it to the masses."
His example? The automobile. After all, in 1898, concerned civic leaders from around the world gathered because estimates predicted that London would be buried under three meters of manure at then current rates of growth; New York City would have piles reaching to the third story of buildings. Within two decades, that problem was entirely gone. "They didn't see the automobile industry coming," Nocera said. "Shift happens."