Watch How Reverse Photosynthesis Makes Biofuel

Categories: Energy

A team of scientists from Denmark’s University of Copenhagen has developed a “reverse photosynthesis” process that turns biomass into fuel using the sun’s energy. It’s essentially the opposite of what plants do by converting sunlight into chemical energy – and it could lead to new industrialized forms of clean energy that give fossil fuels a run for their money.

Photosynthesis, as you are probably aware, is Kind Of A Big Deal. It’s the process by which plants, algae and other organisms convert sunlight into chemical energy.

Now scientists at the University of Copenhagen say they’ve figured out reverse photosynthesis — using sunlight to convert plant biomass into usable fuel. The process could radically transform the industrial production of plastics and chemicals, the researchers say.

They reported their study this week in the journal “Nature Communications.”

It works like this: A given amount of biomass – straw or wood, for instance – is combined with an enzyme called lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase, found in certain fungi and bacteria.

When chlorophyll is added and the entire mixture is exposed to sunlight, sugar molecules in the biomass naturally break down into smaller constituents. The resulting biochemicals can then be more easily converted into fuel and plastics.

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