This week, scientists working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley announced a major breakthrough in efforts to devise a commercially viable artificial photosynthetic process. The discovery could eventually revolutionize the way many drugs, plastics and fuels are produced.
Photosynthesis is a natural process undertaken by many plants and bacteria. Using photosynthesis, for example, a plant can transform the toxic gas carbon dioxide into oxygen using only the power of sunlight and water.
Scientists hope to harness the power of photosynthesis to be able to transform carbon dioxide produced as a waste product of manufacturing into other, more useful substances, using solar power so that carbon dioxide is not emitted into the atmosphere where it could contribute to pollution.
About.me said that researchers Piedong Yang, Christopher Chang and Michelle Chang recently published papers in the journal Nano Letters describing an artificial photosynthetic system they have developed using nanotechnology to synthesize the components of carbon dioxide and water into acetate, with the help of anaerobic bacteria. Piedong Yang reported “Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.”
Their recent paper is entitled “Nanowire bacteria hybrids for unassisted solar carbon dioxide fixation to value-added chemicals.” The new system may hold utility to pharmaceutical research.