Why the future of fuel lies in artificial photosynthesis

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | July 19, 2013

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Most people, especially technical experts, may agree that we have an energy crisis, but it’s much harder to come to a consensus on how to solve it.

Fossil fuels, wind power, biofuels, geothermal power, nuclear energy and solar power are all pieces in the puzzle for how to keep Earth’s burgeoning civilization running, says Emory inorganic chemist Craig Hill.

He adds, however, that an energy source that will be essential to manage the crisis in the coming decades is the least developed: Artificial photosynthesis.

Hill and other top experts in the nascent field of artificial photosynthesis co-wrote an opinion piece on the topic published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

“Humanity is on the threshold of a technological revolution that will allow all human structures across the earth to undertake photosynthesis more efficiently than plants,” the authors write.

The 18 authors on the opinion piece, from leading research universities and national laboratories in the United States, Europe and Australia, represent the broad range of expertise, from chemistry to biology to engineering, working on the problem.

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