Artificial plants need sunlight to produce gasoline, could fuel future vehicles

Los Angeles – Scientists, have progressed towards making artificial plants that just need sunlight to produce natural gas and gasoline to drive future automobiles without causing environmental pollution. A research team has come up with an artificial leaf that generates methane, the main element of natural gas utilizing a combination of bacteria and semiconducting nanowires.

The research draws on a hybrid system that produced butanol, an ingredient in gasoline and in number of bio-chemical building blocks. It’s a significant progress towards synthetic photosynthesis. The latter is a kind of solar power depending on the capability of plants to change sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into sugars.

Instead of producing sugars, synthetic photosynthesis looks at producing liquid fuels that can be stored for years and distributed harnessing existing energy infrastructure.

Professor Peidong Yang, the leader of the research team, said that today’s scientists are efficient at generating electrons from light sources.

However, chemical synthesis was not able to be replicated successfully. One of the aims of this experiment was to demonstrate that bacterial catalyst could be integrated with modern semiconductor technology.

As a result of this scientists can comprehend and device an entirely synthetic photosynthesis system.

A professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State University, Thomas Moore said that using fossil fuels for energy purposes releases carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere much quicker than natural photosynthesis can take out the gas.

Researchers hope to make a completely synthetic system that is more efficient and sturdy than the natural system. For achieving that, they require model systems to examine nature’s best designs, particularly the catalysts that transform carbon dioxide and water into sugars at normal room temperatures.

Peidong Yang is also a chemistry professor at Berkeley and shares the director’s position at the college’s Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute.

The vice dean of research of one of the science divisions at the University of Toronto, Ted Sargent said that the research was not about copying nature. However, it’s about exploring nature’s guidelines and rules. By leveraging the latter, scientists hope to create better-crafted solutions.

The research was described in the August online edition of the National Academy of Sciences.

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