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Chemists create an 'artificial photosynthesis' system that is 10 times more efficient than existing systems
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: November 23, 2022 11:15AM

A study conducted by six chemists at the University of Chicago shows an
innovative new system for artificial photosynthesis that is more
productive than previous artificial systems. Unlike regular
photosynthesis, which produces carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and
water, artificial photosynthesis could produce ethanol, methane, or
other fuels.

Natural photosynthesis is built to produce carbohydrates, which fuel
plants, animals, and humans, but not cars, which need much more
concentrated energy. So researchers looking to create alternatives to
fossil fuels have to re-engineer the process to create more energy-dense
fuels, such as ethanol or methane. Chemist Wenbin Lin and his team
thought that they might try adding something that artificial
photosynthesis systems to date haven't included: amino acids.

The team started with a material called a metal-organic framework (MOF),
a class of compounds made up of metal ions held together by organic
linking molecules. They then designed the MOFs as a single layer to
provide the maximum surface area for chemical reactions, and submerged
everything in a solution that included a cobalt compound to ferry
electrons around. Finally, they added amino acids to the MOFs and
experimented to find out which worked best. The research team was able
to improve both halves of the reaction, which include the process that
breaks apart water and the one that adds electrons and protons to carbon
dioxide. In both cases, the amino acids helped the reaction go more


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