Is the Bionic Leaf the Future of Photosynthesis and CO2 Reduction?

In summary, researchers have developed a bionic "leaf" that uses photovoltaic cells to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. These microbes then convert carbon dioxide into alcohol that can be used as fuel. This hybrid system has a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of approximately 50%, and when coupled with photovoltaic systems, it can reach an efficiency of 10%, which is higher than natural photosynthesis.
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EnumaElish
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Does this mean we've solved the quantum trick in photosynthesis? Cf. http://m.phys.org/news/2014-01-quantum-mechanics-efficiency-photosynthesis.html

Or is that delegated to the "microbes" in there?
 
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Even though the researchers market the idea as a bionic "leaf," their method of energy generation has little in common with biological photosynthesis. They use photovoltaic cells instead of the biological photosystems to harvest energy from light:
The device uses solar electricity from a photovoltaic panel to power the chemistry that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. Microbes within the system then feed on the hydrogen and convert carbon dioxide in the air into alcohol that can be burned as fuel.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/a...s-more-efficient-than-natural-photosynthesis/

Here's a citation to the study being discussed:
Liu et al. 2016 Water splitting–biosynthetic system with CO2 reduction efficiencies exceeding photosynthesis. Science 357: 1210. doi:10.1126/science.aaf5039
Abstract:
Artificial photosynthetic systems can store solar energy and chemically reduce CO2. We developed a hybrid water splitting–biosynthetic system based on a biocompatible Earth-abundant inorganic catalyst system to split water into molecular hydrogen and oxygen (H2 and O2) at low driving voltages. When grown in contact with these catalysts, Ralstonia eutropha consumed the produced H2 to synthesize biomass and fuels or chemical products from low CO2 concentration in the presence of O2. This scalable system has a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ~50% when producing bacterial biomass and liquid fusel alcohols, scrubbing 180 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Coupling this hybrid device to existing photovoltaic systems would yield a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ~10%, exceeding that of natural photosynthetic systems.
 
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Related to Is the Bionic Leaf the Future of Photosynthesis and CO2 Reduction?

1. What is quantum photosynthesis?

Quantum photosynthesis is a process that occurs in plants and certain bacteria, allowing them to convert light energy into chemical energy. It involves the absorption of photons by pigments, such as chlorophyll, and the subsequent transfer of energy to molecules that can be used to produce glucose and other biomolecules.

2. How does quantum photosynthesis differ from traditional photosynthesis?

Traditional photosynthesis follows classical physics principles, where light behaves as a wave. In contrast, quantum photosynthesis involves the principles of quantum mechanics, where light behaves as both a particle and a wave, allowing for more efficient energy transfer.

3. Have we solved quantum photosynthesis?

While significant progress has been made in understanding the principles of quantum photosynthesis, it is a complex process that is still not fully understood. Researchers continue to study and investigate this phenomenon.

4. Why is quantum photosynthesis important?

Quantum photosynthesis is essential for sustaining life on Earth. It is the basis of the food chain and is responsible for producing oxygen, which is crucial for the survival of most living organisms. Additionally, understanding quantum photosynthesis could lead to the development of more efficient solar energy technologies.

5. What challenges are associated with studying quantum photosynthesis?

One of the main challenges of studying quantum photosynthesis is that it occurs at a very small scale, making it difficult to observe and measure. Additionally, the principles of quantum mechanics can be complex and counterintuitive, making it challenging to fully understand the mechanisms involved.

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