Artificial photosynthesis used to create valuable chemical products

April 17, 2015 2:24 PM

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The proposed system makes use of nanowires (silicon and titanium oxide) to form a “artificial forest” that harvests solar energy and delivers electrons to bacteria, where CO2 is reduced (using microbes that produce enzyme) and combined with water for the synthesis of various valuables chemical products such as Acetate or similar biosynthetic intermediate, made possible with genetically engineered E.coli. However, this new artificial photosynthetic system serves the purpose by synthesizing the combination of carbon dioxide and water into acetate, the most common building block today for biosynthesis. With the emission of excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through industries, vehicular pollution etc., the temperature has increased, which has resulted in global warming, including melting of polar ice caps and abnormal changes in climate worldwide. 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.

Yields of target chemical molecules produced from the acetate were also encouraging – as high as 26 per cent for butanol, a fuel comparable to gasoline, 25 per cent for amorphadiene, a precursor to the anti-malaria drug artemisinin, and 52 per cent for the renewable and biodegradable plastic PHB.

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