American engineers want to mimic plants and even do better than them by performing a very effective artificial photosynthesis, able to use solar energy to produce biofuels or capture carbon. Their secret? A curious foam inspired by a frog, in which photosynthesis is achieved by freeing itself from certain constraints of plants.
Life did not wait for humans and theirto exploit solar . The organisms have developed a to transform the energy and CO 2 into chemical energy in the form of . This is today used by humans to produce food, materials and energy. Thanks to a frog, engineers from the University of Cincinnati have come up with a way to exploit this photosynthesis, but without plants. This means is a capable of .
” The advantage of our system compared to plants andis that all of the captured solar energy is converted into sugars, while these organisms must use a lot of the energy for their other functions that keep them alive and their make it possible to reproduce , David Wendell explains. In addition, our scum does not need soil, so it does not compete with food production, and it can be used in a very rich environment , such as power plant discharges, unlike many natural photosynthetic systems . “
To achieve this biotechnological tour de force, David Wendell, Jacob Todd and Dean Carlo Montemagno were inspired by the scum nest produced by a semi-tropical frog. They were able to concentratefrom plants, and in a structure, scum, very permeable to and .
Ignoring the vital needs of plants and theirby high concentrations of CO 2, the artificial photosynthesis of this foam shows a yield of around 96%.
Protective bubbles converted into an energy micro center
The structure of this scum, a combination of transparent and air-filled bubbles, providesassociations and lipid vesicles concentrated in microscopic channels with broad access to light and . These micro-channels called Plateau edges are formed by encountering along a common line of three bubble faces.
The Tungara frog ( Engystomops pustulosus ) not only inspired the University of Cincinnati engineers, as they explain in the review, it also provided the surfactant needed to create the scum . This protein, Ranaspumin-2, has indeed foaming surfactant properties that promote the formation and association of bubbles into a foam. Originally, this froth is produced during to protect eggs from , harmful sunlight, temperature changes and .
The next stage of technological development is to move to an industrial scale that would, for example,from coal plants. This involves developing a technique to extract for production on the one hand , and the elements necessary for the regeneration of scum on the other.
According to Dean Carlo Montemagno, the technology developed with this scum opens ato the creation of new materials integrating life processes, for the production of biofuel but also for other purposes.