A group of scientists have recently discovered a new process of carrying out artificial photosynthesis. They have developed a system capable of capturing the emitted carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere; then, using solar energy, the system converts that captured CO2 into valuable and essential chemical products such as liquid fuels, biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs etc.
The new system has been created by a group of scientists representing the University of California and the Lawrence Berkeley National Academy of the US department of Energy (or DOE). It’s a hybrid system that involves use of bacteria and semiconducting nanowires. These agents mimic natural photosynthesis, a process that enables plants to use energy emitted by sunlight for synthesizing carbohydrate from water and carbon dioxide.
The newly discovered process of artificial photosynthesis, on the other hand, works by synthesizing water and carbon dioxide into acetate, a common ingredient of biosynthesis. Peidong Yang, a chemist at the Material Sciences Division at Berkley’s Lab, and one of the lead authors of this study, said that he believes that this new system will change the entire concept of artificial photosynthesis for better.
He added that their system is capable of changing the basics of the oil and chemical industry by allowing companies to produce fuels and chemicals in an absolutely renewable way. This will ensure that humans will not need to dig into the ground anymore for extracting those essentials; in other words, using this system of artificial photosynthesis, will help us to conserve our natural resources effectively.
Most of us are aware of the fact that global warming i.e. increase in the temperature of our atmosphere is primarily caused by excessive emission of carbon dioxide. To put it more bluntly, the more is the quantity of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, the hotter it becomes.
Recently obtained statistics suggest that right now the level of atmospheric CO2 is at its highest in a minimum of 3 million years. This has happened mainly due to combustion of fossil fuels.
We cannot stop using fossil fuels, particularly coal, as they will continue to be important sources of energy even in the future. However, sequestering the emitted carbon before it reaches the atmosphere can make our environment cleaner and greener. The new system of artificial photosynthesis will be doing exactly that.