A new system has been developed that is capable of capturing CO2 emissions prior to them being expelled into the atmosphere and then via solar energy converting them into high-value products. These include liquid fuels, pharmacological drugs and degradable plastics.
The Department of Energy (US DOE), the Berkeley Lab and the University of California Berkeley have pooled their resources to create a system of semiconducting nanowires with bacteria capable of mimicking the photosynthetic process used by plants to synthesize carbohydrates from water and CO2. This new system artificially synthesizes the water and CO2 into acetate. This is a common foundation for biosynthesis.
A chemist from Berkeley Lab – Peidon Yang – stated that the system has the capacity to dramatically change the oil and chemical industry, by producing fuels and chemicals in a renewable manner. This differs from the alternative of ground extraction. Yang authored a paper which displays how the abstract concept operates. The process is premised on the direct solar production of water and carbon dioxide, in much the same way as the process of photosynthesis.
There are four components of the ground-breaking photosynthesis system, including the harvesting of solar energy; the generation of reducing equivalents, the reduction of CO2 into biosynthetic intermediate and the production of value-added chemicals. This new process actually solves the problem of storage by utilizing the captured CO2 effectively. By using nanowire arrays with bacterial populations, the artificial photosynthesis provides a beneficial solution to the environment.