CO2 Re-Utilisation Possible Through Artificial Photosynthesis
Researchers have developed a new system that uses sunlight to convert waste carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products including; bio-plastics, pharmaceuticals and liquid fuels.
In natural photosynthesis, leaves harvest solar energy, while carbon dioxide is reduced and combined with water as part of the creation of biomass.
Chemical Scientists working at Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California Berkeley have created a system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that mimics the photosynthesis process.
In this artificial system, carbon dioxide is once again reduced and combined with water, but a set of nanowires harvest the solar energy delivering electrons to bacteria, and a variety of value-added chemical products are created.
The utilisation of waste sources in an advantageous way that adds value is fundamental to the circular economy. In this instance, the artificial photosynthesis process makes use of wasted CO2 in what is effectively solar-powered green chemistry.
The research has yet to specify where it intends to retrieve the waste CO2 from and that may yet be a challenge in scaling up these activities, but there are clearly economic incentives if the process can be brought to the market.