Natural vs Artificial Photosynthesis: image via Argonne National Laboratory Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) committed $122 million to a team of university scientists to mount the daunting task of creating fuel directly from the sun. Skip the plants and forget about solar panels; the DOE is talking about developing an artificial photosynthesis, one that can create gasoline directly out of sunlight.
Though attempts have been made in many scientific centers throughout the world to create fuel directly from the sun, rather than using plants to create fuel, it's been thought to be too expensive and to take many more years than the DOE has given The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) to be led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in partnership with the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to lead the effort.
In five years Caltech, Berkeley, and top scientists of many disciplines from other leading California Universities are expected to make it happen: "The ultimate objective is to drive the field of solar fuels from
fundamental research, where it has resided for decades, into applied
research and technology development, thereby setting the stage for the
creation of a direct solar fuels industry."
Caltech will host the 'hub' of JCAP in its Jorgensen Laboratory building, where the necessary equipment will be gathered and researchers will work. Caltech was chosen based on a competitive process using scientific peer review.
Let's wish this whole team well.
sources: Caltech news release, DOE announcement, via San Francisco Chronicle