Skip navigation
Using artificial photosynthesis to develop fuel

This is Science Today. Mother Nature has been successfully capturing energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. Chemist Paul Alivisatos of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they're working to develop an artificial version of photosynthesis to convert sunlight into liquid fuels.

Alivisatos:      The goal of artificial photosynthesis is to design new material systems that can store the energy of photons from the sun in fuel molecules like hydrogen, alcohols or alkanes.

Narrator:        The overall process would resemble natural photosynthesis, but would be very different in composition, design and performance.

Alivisatos:      If artificial photosynthesis works, we can establish a complete and stable fuel cycle where CO2 released from burning fuel is converted back to fuel using the energy of the sun. The challenge for this research is to find ways to do this with good efficiency and using materials that are abundant and using manufacturing processes that are scalable. With this combination, we could create a truly sustainable source of energy.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.