Video: Artificial leaves to produce fuel on Earth and, one day, Mars

January 25, 2018 by Robert Sanders, University of California - Berkeley

Call it "liquid sunlight." With the right technology, the gas station of the future will make its own fuel directly from sunlight, in the process sucking up carbon and producing oxygen.

Decades into the future, the same technology could provide fuel and oxygen for the first Martians, and could even be tweaked to produce fertilizer.

Peidong Yang is at work on such technology, what he refers to as . A UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and Berkeley Lab researcher, Yang and his colleagues have already produced new classes of to efficiently capture sunlight for this process, and new types of catalysts to promote the chemical reactions.

His team recently reached a milestone, demonstrating a process in which sunlight shines into a water solution bubbled with carbon dioxide to produce chemical fuels, polymers and, under some conditions, even pharmaceutical intermediates to make drugs. The prototype system converts solar to chemical energy at a higher efficiency than nature.

An inorganic chemist and nanotechnologist, Yang discussed the promise of artificial photosynthesis last year at Cal Future Forum, demonstrating how Berkeley is leading the way in created sustainable and renewable sources of energy to wean us from .

Chemist Peidong Yang is developing ways to convert sunlight, water and carbon directly into fuel, just as a leaf converts sunlight into food. Credit: University of California - Berkeley

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not rated yet Jan 25, 2018
I would think this would be much more helpful floating in the atmosphere of Venus. If we can build more floating factories out of the products that come out of them, they could eventually blanket the planet slowly reducing the temperatures and pressures below into something more livable. Exporting the transformed carbon would be a net positive on Venus rather than a diminishing return as it would here or on Mars.

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