Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have moved one step closer to turning water and sunlight into sustainable fuel by successfully replicating a crucial step in photosynthesis.
\"It\'s the beginning of a whole suite of possibilities, such as creating a highly efficient fuel, or to trapping atmospheric carbon,\" said Pace. Pace said large amounts of hydrogen fuel produced by artificial photosynthesis could transform the economy. \"That carbon-free cycle is essentially indefinitely sustainable. Sunlight is extraordinarily abundant, water is everywhere - the raw materials we need to make the fuel. And at the end of the usage cycle it goes back to water,\" he said. The team modified a much-researched and ubiquitous protein, Ferritin, which is present in almost all living organisms. Ferritin\'s usual role is to store iron, but the team removed the iron and replaced it with the abundant metal, manganese, to closely resemble the water splitting site in photosynthesis. The protein also binds a haem group, which the researchers replaced with a light-sensitive pigment, Zinc Chlorin. When they shone light onto the modified ferritin, there was a clear indication of charge transfer just like in natural photosynthesis. The research was published in the journal BBA Bioenergetics.