by Isaiah Boone
Pulse Headlines recently posted an article describing a new discovery at the University of Copenhagen. Researchers at the University have found a potential new source of energy which they are calling reverse photosynthesis. This discovery appears to have larger implications than for the renewable energy industry, but for the petrochemical industry as well. During reverse photosynthesis, solar rays break down rather than build up plant material, which is what normally occurs in photosynthesis. The process consists of combining biomass with an enzyme known as lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase. Chlorophyll is then added to this mixture before it is exposed to sunlight. The chlorophyll then absorbs the sunlight and the energy from the sun breaks down the molecules in the biomass into smaller and smaller components until fuels and chemicals are what remain. [http://www.pulseheadlines.com/gamechanger-energy/24057/] The researchers believe that reverse photosynthesis can be a significant player in the global energy industry and greatly combat pollution.
The benefits associated with reverse photosynthesis extend beyond energy generation. Using the natural power of the sun, and the chemical reactions it causes, reverse photosynthesis is expected to reduce energy consumption and waste. Additionally, the chemical reaction also outputs biofuels and biochemicals that are useful too. As a result of this reaction, many biofuels and biochemicals can be created at lower temperatures and faster. Lead author of the research, David Cannella stated that, “Some of the reactions, which currently take 24 hours can be achieved in just 10 minutes by using the sun”. The process makes plastics, makeup, and paints, as well as other chemicals that are made from petroleum easier to manufacture and offers valuable additional incentives.
Reverse photosynthesis could have a large role in the future as its developments impact the petrochemical industry. The industry brings with it a lot of issues for both the environment and climate due to the nature of production. The process of creating plastics and other materials using reverse photosynthesis eliminates a number of these issues and makes production much more feasible. Reverse photosynthesis can used to convert methane into methanol, a liquid fuel, which is used by the petrochemicals industry in fuels, materials and chemicals. The potential implications if these ideas pan out will be tremendous and will be interesting to follow. [https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160404090545.htm]