Artificial Photosynthesis. State of Research, Scientific-Technological Challenges and Perspectives
Maintaining an energy supply while minimising impact on the environment and climate is one of the greatest social and scientific challenges of our times. Coal, oil and natural gas have to replaced by CO2-neutral fuels and valuable products if the effects of climate change are to be mitigated. There is one important prerequisite: renewable energy carriers can only contribute to climate protection if they can be produced sustainably.
Artificial photosynthesis is one possible approach. Photosynthesis is a process which produces chemical energy carriers and organic valuable products using sunlight as the sole energy source. In biological photosynthesis, plants, algae and bacteria use the energy from the sunlight to produce biomass from carbon dioxide and water, while artificial photosynthesis yields products such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, methanol or ammonia, as well as more complex substances, capable of replacing fossil fuels and resources. These energy-rich substances can be transported, stored and subsequently used in the energy and resource system. Successful use of artificial photosynthesis on a large scale would bring about a considerable reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions since fewer fossil resources would have to be extracted and combusted.