BIOENERGY: Water splitting-biosynthetic system with CO2 reduction efficiencies exceeding photosynthesis

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Artificial photosynthetic systems can store solar energy and chemically reduce CO2. We developed a hybrid water splitting-biosynthetic system based on a biocompatible Earth-abundant inorganic catalyst system to split water into molecular hydrogen and oxygen (H2 and O2) at low driving voltages. When grown in contact with these catalysts,Ralstonia eutrophaconsumed the produced H2 to synthesize biomass and fuels or chemical products from low CO2 concentration in the presence of O2. This scalable system has a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ˜50% when producing bacterial biomass and liquid fusel alcohols, scrubbing 180 grams of CO2 per kilowatthour of electricity. Coupling this hybrid device to existing photovoltaic systems would yield a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ˜10%, exceeding that of natural photosynthetic systems.

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