Modern science continues to move forward at breakneck speed. Scientists at University of California’s Berkeley Lab announced on Thursday April 16th that a major breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with a new system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions and, using solar energy, convert the carbon dioxide into useful chemical products such as biodegradable plastics, drugs or even liquid fuels.

Artificial Photosynthesis Can Fight Global Warming [STUDY]
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The researchers have created a hybrid system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that recreates the natural photosynthetic process of synthesizing carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. This new artificial photosynthetic system, however, is designed to turn carbon dioxide and water into acetate, commonly used building block of modern biosynthesis.

A paper on the research was published in the academic journal Nano Letters earlier this week.

Statement from lead researcher

“We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis. 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,” said Peidong Yang, a chemist at Berkeley Lab and a corresponding author of the paper descri9bing the artificial photosynthesis system.

New artificial photosynthesis system solves carbon dioxide storage problem

The new artificial photosynthesis system uses an array of silicon and titanium oxide nano-wires that light up on exposure to sunlight. This provides the electrons that cause the bacteria to reduce the CO2 to a compound similar to acetate. The Berkeley Lab researchers used the bacteria Sporomusa ovata for the reduction reaction. After that, genetically modified E.coli were used to synthesize chemicals from the acetate material created by the reduction

Yang and the other Berkeley Lab researchers believe their new artificial photosynthetic technique will solve the problem of where to put captured carbon dioxide by putting it to use making valuable products. Scientists have been trying to figure out what to do with captured CO2 since releasing it into the atmosphere leads to global warming.