Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Artificial "plants" invented?

According to this press release, chemists at UCSD have realized the first step toward the creation of artificial "plants" that use solar radiation to convert CO2 into fuel. Their prototype still needs additional energy input, but they believe they will be able to optimize it so it will run on solar power alone. The device creates carbon monoxide (CO), which is an extremely toxic gas which is commonly used in suicides, but which also serves an important basis material for the chemical industry and can even be converted into liquid fuel via the Fischer-Tropsch process. Artificial photosynthesis sounds like a great idea, but I am not an expert on this, so maybe there are hidden caveats that the inventors are not talking about. Any additional information from experts would be most welcome.