Daniel Nocera

The storage of renewable energies is the big pending topic to be solved so that they are finally a solid alternative to fossil fuels in the world. And the solution may not be far since an American scientist from the Harvard University, Daniel Rocera, succeeded in genetically modifying a bacteria to produce liquid fuel from solar energy. A non-polluting liquid fuel that can replace gasoline and other polluting fuels currently used in transport.

In the portfolio of renewable energy sources, one of the most important pieces is missing. One of the most promising possibilities is artificial photosynthesis, which mimics the natural method of converting sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into fuel.

If this scientific breakthrough can be exploited commercially on a large scale, it could be called the greatest discovery to fight climate change in history. It could also be the end of the era of fossil fuels, a global energy revolution.

A bacteria to produce liquid fuel.

The prodigious bacteria

The process of photosynthesis in the artificial leaf with the genetically modified bacteria causes the production of biomass when sunlight crosses water and carbon dioxide. Rocera’s prodigious bacteria produce liquid fuel directly, bypassing biomass. It is able to split water between oxygen and hydrogen with the help of catalysts made from an alloy of cobalt and phosphorus. Thus, it absorbs hydrogen to combine it with carbon dioxide to produce isopropanol (alcohol similar to ethanol).

A “bionic sheet” capable of capturing and converting 10% of solar energy. Its performance is 10 times better than the photosynthesis of an average plant.

Nocera and his team also solved a very important problem: the life of bacteria.

The commercial viability of the project is still far away, but the way has already been mapped.

Daniel Rocera was already named in 2009 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. It is one of the most relevant researchers on subjects related to photosynthesis and solar energy.


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You can view the full study at PNAS scientific journal. More information news.harvard.edu

Photo: nationalgeographic.com