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‘Artificial photosynthesis’ breakthrough could lead to limitless energy

Published Oct 13th, 2023 9:20PM EDT
Image: Thompson Strawberry Farm

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The world’s scientific community has been searching for a way to create limitless energy. From Moon crystals to molecules that violate the laws of physics, the possibilities have been all over the place. Now, though, researchers may have found a way to use artificial photosynthesis to harness how plants generate energy and use it for ourselves.

The process was discovered in groundbreaking new research, which has seen scientists successfully mimic the natural process of photosynthesis to produce methane. This energy-dense fuel only requires water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight.

The researchers outline the new discovery in a new paper published in ACS Engineering. If scaled up, this new process could allow artificial photosynthesis to replace solar panels as a primary source of limitless and clean energy, which many have been trying for decades to find.

miracle plant
Plants rely on a system known as photosynthesis to produce energy and food, and scientists hope to replicate that in the search for limitless energy. Image source: scimmery1 / Adobe

Kazunari Domen led the team of engineers, and they were able to take things a step further by developing a system that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gas using sunlight. From there, they hoped to evolve the process to more closely mimic the system plants use, absorbing the carbon dioxide and storing the energy from the Sun in methane, essentially acting as an artificial version of photosynthesis.

It’s a system very similar to solar panels. However, instead of simply harnessing the Sun’s energy and storing it, they utilized the same system of photosynthesis that plants rely on to produce even more storable energy. Of course, scaling the system up to meet the demands of a city is more challenging, and the paper the team wrote discusses those hurdles and possible solutions.

Because the system relies on methane to store the Sun’s energy, it is crucial to create a system that does not leak. If the system did leak, it would only contribute to the greenhouse gases that have threatened to choke out our planet in the past, contributing significantly to climate change and global warming.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.