It may seem too good to be true, but engineers from the University of Cincinnati have devised a way to capture and remove CO2 out of the air and then convert it into biofuel building blocks. The engineers have created an artificial photosynthetic material made from foam injected with frog enzymes, which combined with the power of the sun, converts CO2 into oxygen and sugar. With more research, the sugar could then be used to make ethanol or biofuel without the use of farmland or crops.
Assistant Professor David Wendell and Jacob Todd recently released a paper detailing their research about their new artificial photosynthetic material. The carbon capturing foam is composed of plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes, which can perform photosynthesis when in the presence of sunlight and carbon dioxide. Foam was chosen because it can effectively contain the enzymes while soaking up a lot of air and light. The photosynthetic material was inspired by the foam nests of a semi-tropical frog called the Tungara frog, which creates very long-lived foams for its developing tadpoles.
The engineers have achieved a higher percentage of energy conversion than in natural photosynthesis, because unlike organisms, the foam does not need to divert any energy to maintain life or reproduce. The material also has advantages over traditional biofuel production methods because no farmland or crops are needed. The engineer’s next step is to try to make the technology feasible for large-scale applications, such as carbon capture at coal-burning power plants.
Thanks for the tip Wendy Beckman!