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(Daily Kos)   While you were all complaining about HCR, some smarty just created artifical photosynthesis   (dailykos.com) divider line 80
    More: Cool, HCR, carbon capture, sugars, University of Cincinnati, tadpoles, food production, surface area, substrate  
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5028 clicks; posted to Geek » on 16 Mar 2010 at 3:49 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-03-16 03:32:43 PM
super fancy... I like it.
 
2010-03-16 03:35:02 PM
That is incredibly cool!
 
2010-03-16 03:35:36 PM
Unlike natural photosynthesis, it works well in atmospheres very high in CO2. So the process could potentially be used as a flue-gas scrubber, for example, removing CO2 from the air at industrial sources.

Holy FARK. Not only did they solve food shortages and the energy crisis, but they also solved global warming!
 
2010-03-16 03:36:32 PM
What a bright idea!
 
2010-03-16 03:46:02 PM
I'm a little weary of this, considering that they're claiming something like 9x the efficiency of natural photosynthesis and a violation of the laws of thermodynamics.
 
2010-03-16 03:46:20 PM
I'm sure the oil companies are green with envy over this.
 
2010-03-16 03:51:26 PM
Scientists at the University of Cincinnati...

See folks, capitalism is the best way to fund research and development. You think some government could have done this? Ha! Not likely.
 
2010-03-16 03:51:32 PM
Wait, nevermind.

Assuming a Gibbs free energy of ATP formation to be 35 kJ/mol,(28) and 188 kJ per einstein of 570 nm light,(26) we obtain a rough estimate for photoconversion efficiency of 5%.

That's a lower rate than current technology.
 
2010-03-16 03:52:06 PM
It turns nearly all (96%) of captured sunlight into sugars

Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?
 
2010-03-16 03:53:52 PM
Cleans the air and can byproducts can be used to make booze? What's not to like.
 
2010-03-16 03:55:49 PM
ne2d: Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

Other than the earlier quote about that number being misleading, I'm still pretty sure that number has to be an error. The laws of thermodynamics put the maximum theoretical efficiency of any system around 90%, and real world applications never get to that point. Once you start talking 96%, you're into perpetual motion machine territory.
 
2010-03-16 03:58:25 PM
IrateShadow: ne2d: Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

Other than the earlier quote about that number being misleading, I'm still pretty sure that number has to be an error. The laws of thermodynamics put the maximum theoretical efficiency of any system around 90%, and real world applications never get to that point. Once you start talking 96%, you're into perpetual motion machine territory.


I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.
 
2010-03-16 04:00:38 PM
ne2d: I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.

Oh. Considering that they were talking about photosynthesis, I assume that they were talking about the same starting and end products that any plant would use.
 
2010-03-16 04:02:14 PM
ne2d: I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.

The energy from sunlight is used to form bonds. Matter is not created.

Grossly oversimplified explanation:

Simple precursors + energy from sunlight -> Sugars
 
2010-03-16 04:04:40 PM
i work for the University of Cincinnati, and David Wendell is indeed in our directory.
 
2010-03-16 04:05:40 PM
thurstonxhowell: ne2d: I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.

The energy from sunlight is used to form bonds. Matter is not created.

Grossly oversimplified explanation:

Simple precursors + energy from sunlight -> Sugars


Basically this. The Kos writer is in error. The materials have to be there, but this method they have developed appears to be extremely efficient at directing the sunlight to complete the process of photosynthesis.
 
2010-03-16 04:07:10 PM
sunbird: Very cool.

Love that graphic
 
2010-03-16 04:08:40 PM
FishyFred: thurstonxhowell: ne2d: I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.

The energy from sunlight is used to form bonds. Matter is not created.

Grossly oversimplified explanation:

Simple precursors + energy from sunlight -> Sugars

Basically this. The Kos writer is in error. The materials have to be there, but this method they have developed appears to be extremely efficient at directing the sunlight to complete the process of photosynthesis.


There are links to the more details and the abstract on KOS article.
Also this is yet another point on how all those damn hippies were/are right protecting as much biodiversity as possible. As you never know when something as odd as frog spit could be the basis of the "next big thing".
 
2010-03-16 04:08:56 PM
IrateShadow: ne2d: Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

Other than the earlier quote about that number being misleading, I'm still pretty sure that number has to be an error. The laws of thermodynamics put the maximum theoretical efficiency of any system around 90%, and real world applications never get to that point. Once you start talking 96%, you're into perpetual motion machine territory.


FTFJA (Nano Letters)
Each sample (n = 3) was incubated for 4 h and assayed for glucose, the results are summarized in Table 1. The results for the formation of G3P in the full process assay were comparable to those obtained from the assays conducted in a stepwise fashion. The peak chemical energy conversion efficiency was 96%, calculated from the combustion energy of glucose (2800 kJ/mol) and the Gibbs free energy of inorganic phosphate addition to ADP (35 kJ/mol).(28)

I'm no chemist but they managed to get this thing peer reviewed and in theory other people will be able to replicate the results....

Why oh why did our green light come from Daily Kos though? Was New Scientist busy?
 
2010-03-16 04:13:02 PM
thurstonxhowell

ne2d: I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.

The energy from sunlight is used to form bonds. Matter is not created.

Grossly oversimplified explanation:

Simple precursors + energy from sunlight -> Sugars

More accurately the energy from sunlight is used to break chemical bonds in precursors, and the enzymes and electromagnetic interactions between subatomic particles form the bonds. In the artificial photosynthesis 96% of incident sunlight is used to break bonds which is more than in natural photosynthesis.
 
2010-03-16 04:14:06 PM
onceuponawin.files.wordpress.com

They're delicious AND brilliant?
 
2010-03-16 04:16:50 PM
ne2d: "It turns nearly all (96%) of captured sunlight into sugars." Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

It's an oversimplification, but there's nothing logically wrong with it.

First off, they're careful to use the term captured sunlight; the first efficiency loss is that not all of the sunlight is absorbed by the photosynthesizing substances. Furthermore, I think it refers to the spectral absorption range and not efficiency per se.

The root of the statement is that photosynthesis involving chlorophyll can only absorb light in a relatively narrow band. If I'm understanding it correctly, and here's where it's probably misleading, is that the foam's absorption band covers 96% of the wavelengths in sunlight that actually reaches the Earth's surface. However, that's also easy to misunderstand because most people don't realize that the Earth's atmosphere is very good at absorbing sunlight. The only light that gets through intact are some UV, visible light, some IR and finally some radio waves that are most likely part of the 4% that this foam can't absorb.

This is an exciting development and I hope it turns out to be economically feasible and environmentally sustainable, but don't make too much of the above statement.
 
2010-03-16 04:20:36 PM
Tadpoles! Tadpoles is the winner!
 
2010-03-16 04:22:30 PM
Interesting, I read it as meaning that 96% of the energy in the incident sunlight (that is the area under the spectral emission energy density curve) is used to break chemical bonds.

A more science-y article would be nice.
 
2010-03-16 04:29:41 PM
I think this thread is more interesting than the article.

/not smrt, so I appreciate the explanations here.
 
2010-03-16 04:30:37 PM
suck it, photoautotrophs!



also, insert green pun here. and something about St. Patty's Day to boot.
 
2010-03-16 04:31:27 PM
ne2d: It turns nearly all (96%) of captured sunlight into sugars

Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?


What the article actually says is that they made ATP using sunlight as the energy source. They then converted 96% of this "chemical energy" in the form of ATP into energy used for making glucose. If you claim that the ATP is "caputred sunlight", then it's not an incorrect statement -- however, it's a gross oversimplification and can read as though they got a quantum yield of 96%, which is absurd. Quantum yield meaning 96% of all photons that interacted with the enzyme/foam went on to create ATP. The world's best solar cells operate
 
2010-03-16 04:32:56 PM
Donnchadha: ne2d: It turns nearly all (96%) of captured sunlight into sugars

Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

What the article actually says is that they made ATP using sunlight as the energy source. They then converted 96% of this "chemical energy" in the form of ATP into energy used for making glucose. If you claim that the ATP is "caputred sunlight", then it's not an incorrect statement -- however, it's a gross oversimplification and can read as though they got a quantum yield of 96%, which is absurd. Quantum yield meaning 96% of all photons that interacted with the enzyme/foam went on to create ATP. The world's best solar cells operate


... at less than 10% quantum yield, and raising it to 15% would solve all the world's energy problems.

Fark ate the end of that for some reason.
 
2010-03-16 04:33:54 PM
Pochas: Interesting, I read it as meaning that 96% of the energy in the incident sunlight (that is the area under the spectral emission energy density curve) is used to break chemical bonds.

A more science-y article would be nice.


Reading the actual paper and being an actual chemist, I see that the 96% is yield based on starting ATP, while capture of sunlight is at 5%. The paper is about the generation of dimethylfuran as a biofuel. Based on their calculations increasing the scale could produce (10kg/acre)/hour of this biofuel which contains 40% more energy/gram than ethanol.
 
2010-03-16 04:36:06 PM
Bah! In my day we sweetened our Coca Cola with high-fructose corn syrup, not this artificially-photosynthesized sugar!

/And I tied an onion to my belt.
//Which was the style at the time.
 
2010-03-16 04:37:58 PM
satanorsanta: Based on their calculations increasing the scale could produce (10kg/acre)/hour of this biofuel which contains 40% more energy/gram than ethanol.

Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?
 
2010-03-16 04:41:46 PM
dragonchild: Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?

Oh fark, you're right. You know what this means: Whatever technology that comes of this is going to face an uphill battle against the corn lobby.
 
2010-03-16 04:43:07 PM
Pochas: Interesting, I read it as meaning that 96% of the energy in the incident sunlight (that is the area under the spectral emission energy density curve) is used to break chemical bonds.

A more science-y article would be nice.


Link (new window)
 
2010-03-16 04:44:22 PM
FishyFred: dragonchild: Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?

Oh fark, you're right. You know what this means: Whatever technology that comes of this is going to face an uphill battle against the corn lobby.


Fark Big Corn. Seriously. I'm not even being sarcastic. Pepsi Throwback or GTFO.
 
2010-03-16 04:44:44 PM
FishyFred: dragonchild: Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?

Oh fark, you're right. You know what this means: Whatever technology that comes of this is going to face an uphill battle against the corn lobby.


I heard Big Corntm has already been caught sniffing around the lab.
 
2010-03-16 04:46:00 PM
FishyFred: dragonchild: Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?

Oh fark, you're right. You know what this means: Whatever technology that comes of this is going to face an uphill battle against the corn lobby.


Now I'm hungry for some candy corn.
 
2010-03-16 04:52:32 PM
dragonchild: Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?

First generation biofuels such as ethanol and plant oil derived biodiesel are relatively easy to make because the biochemistry is already in place. The downside is that most methods are based on starch/sugar/plant oils which requires food stocks as energy feedstock, ethanol is not compatible with existing energy infrastructure, and the energy density is fairly low compared to gasoline.

Second generation biofuels such as butanol and advanced biodiesel are better because they have higher energy content and are compatable with existing energy infrastructure. The downside is that natural strains do not make these compounds at high enough yields, which requires extensive genetic engineering of strains. Most first and second generation biofuels processes are now moving to cellulosic biomass as a feedstock. This is beneficial in that you can use feedstocks such as switchgrass that do not compete with food stocks and the process is more efficient because you are using more of the plant. However, you still have to cultivate, harvest and preprocess the biomass.

The ideal process is one based entirely on fixation of carbon dioxide with an appropriate source of reducing equivalents, say direct current or hydrogen gas. This would completely eliminate the need for biomass as a feedstock, but requires extensive engineering of strains to carry out the process. Ideally, you would have a process that can convert CO2 and H2 to pretty much any fuel you want, including jet fuels and other high cetane fuels.
 
2010-03-16 04:56:03 PM
dragonchild: satanorsanta: Based on their calculations increasing the scale could produce (10kg/acre)/hour of this biofuel which contains 40% more energy/gram than ethanol.

Not only does it contain more energy, ethanol is currently processed from harvested seasonal crops. Wouldn't artificial photosynthesis work year-round without the mess of harvesting plant matter?


It would still need big vats of liquid out in the sun. It would freeze solid in the winter
 
2010-03-16 04:57:55 PM
The chia car I dreamed of creating in high school is now a possibility!!!! I had given up on it as the foolish dream of a dumb kid, but we can harness the power of solar energy directl...wait.
 
2010-03-16 05:04:25 PM
Most of my problems lie with either HKLM or HKCU. HCR isn't even on the radar.
 
2010-03-16 05:05:06 PM
Mentat: This is beneficial in that you can use feedstocks such as switchgrass that do not compete with food stocks and the process is more efficient because you are using more of the plant.

Well if we move to cellulosic ethanol, why wouldn't you use the bi-product of food production? Things like corn produce a metric fark ton of cellulose in the stalks and after processing the cobs could be used as well. While I think using the edible corn for fuel is generally bad, using the rest of the plant, which is basically waste right now, would be.
 
2010-03-16 05:05:50 PM
syrynxx: Most of my problems lie with either HKLM or HKCU. HCR isn't even on the radar.

I'm registering what you're doing there.
 
2010-03-16 05:12:00 PM
Great. Now if we could just solve the frog shortage.
 
2010-03-16 05:20:55 PM
I was just thinking about this earlier today, wondering why no one had ever thought to use artificial photosynthesis to produce energy. I guess people had been thinking about it, it was just tough to do.
 
2010-03-16 05:27:13 PM
ne2d: IrateShadow: ne2d: Can someone with a bit more scientific knowledge than me verify that something is very wrong with this statement?

Other than the earlier quote about that number being misleading, I'm still pretty sure that number has to be an error. The laws of thermodynamics put the maximum theoretical efficiency of any system around 90%, and real world applications never get to that point. Once you start talking 96%, you're into perpetual motion machine territory.

I'm more dubious of the whole "turning sunlight into matter" part.


It isn't turning sunlight into matter; it's using the energy in sunlight to overcome the activation barrier needed to convert one type of matter (carbon dioxide) into another (sugar).

A good analogy would be the following: nature is like feeding a bunch of men and having them build a house out of a pile of wood and some bags of concrete lying around. Your efficiency is only going to be about 5%, since most of the calories in the food are going to go into running the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, and nervous metabolisms of the men, not to mention the fact that they need to take breaks every two hours. This process is like building a robot that will convert >90% of the energy in a battery into work building the house. If there is a limiting issue here, it's the cost of building the robot. Apparently the sludge they employ is reusable, but it requires some exotic biological extracts to make up front.
 
2010-03-16 05:39:51 PM
I can hear the collective cries of joy emanating from pot growers around the world..
 
2010-03-16 05:56:20 PM
tinderboxer: Mentat: This is beneficial in that you can use feedstocks such as switchgrass that do not compete with food stocks and the process is more efficient because you are using more of the plant.

Well if we move to cellulosic ethanol, why wouldn't you use the bi-product of food production? Things like corn produce a metric fark ton of cellulose in the stalks and after processing the cobs could be used as well. While I think using the edible corn for fuel is generally bad, using the rest of the plant, which is basically waste right now, would be.


Breaking down cellulose is not easy, unless you're a cow. Even then they need four stomachs to do it.
 
2010-03-16 05:56:33 PM
Donnchadha: syrynxx: Most of my problems lie with either HKLM or HKCU. HCR isn't even on the radar.

I'm registering what you're doing there.


I'm all itchy now, maybe it's hives?
 
2010-03-16 06:13:18 PM
I have an advanced degree in plant biology and my concentration was in photosynthesis... and I am a little dubious about this report. It sounds plausible, but not at the efficiencies that are quoted.

I don't think Nano Letters is such a major publication either, and the magnitude of the implications of this if true should merit a more mainstream journal.

I'm unfortunately out of school so I don't have access to the library system that would get me the article. Anyone have access to the full Nano Letters article?
 
2010-03-16 06:33:08 PM
tinderboxer: Well if we move to cellulosic ethanol, why wouldn't you use the bi-product of food production? Things like corn produce a metric fark ton of cellulose in the stalks and after processing the cobs could be used as well. While I think using the edible corn for fuel is generally bad, using the rest of the plant, which is basically waste right now, would be.

You can. In fact, corn stover is a viable cellulosic feedstock. However, switchgrass can be grown on land that's not viable for food crop produce and thus you can increase the amount of arable land usable for feedstock production without impacting food production. However, cellulose is hard to break down and there's also the issue of lignin which can produce inhibitors and toxins that impact biofuels yields. Also, when you use the entire plant, there's the issue of depleting the soil because you aren't leaving anything behind. Going to full CO2 not derived from biomass eliminates those problems.
 
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