Researchers at Harvard Use Bacteria to Convert Solar Energy into Liquid Fuel

Using solar panels to create electric energy has proved to be quite efficient, yet switching the entire transportation world to electric might cost the environment even more pollution than it does now. Meanwhile, however, scientists at Harvard Medical School believe they found a new way to harness solar energy and converting it into liquid fuel. This could accelerate its adoption as a power source and replace the oil in the future.
Researchers at Harvard Use Bacteria to Convert Solar Energy into Liquid Fuel 1 photo
Nature has proven that harvesting sunlight is the best way to make things move. Ever since we were just kids we learned about how plants use solar energy to feed themselves from the air and water, we all know it as the process of photosynthesis. This is exactly what we need to do in order to keep things moving without ruining the planet in the process.

Scientists have found a way to harness solar energy, using electricity from photovoltaic cells to yield hydrogen that can be later used in fuel cells.

But let’s face it, this world was meant for liquid fuels. That’s exactly what a team created by researchers from the Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are looking after.

According to Science Daily, they have created a system that uses bacteria to convert solar energy into a liquid fuel. Long story short, an “artificial leaf” uses a catalyst to make sunlight split water into hydrogen and oxygen, while a bacterium was engineered to convert carbon dioxide plus hydrogen into the liquid fuel isopropanol.

"This is a proof of concept that you can have a way of harvesting solar energy and storing it in the form of a liquid fuel," said Silver, who is Core Faculty at the Wyss Institute. The team’s immediate challenge is to increase the bionic leaf’s ability to translate solar energy to biomass by optimizing the catalyst and the bacteria.

There’s still a long way to go until we’ll be using this instead of petrol-based fuels, but we have to admit it does sound quite promising.


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