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Solar Chemistry Heats Up

By Gerald Ondrey |

Major efforts are underway to develop new process technology for making chemicals using sunlight and the products of combustion No one can deny that the sun provides more than enough energy to supply the world’s energy and materials needs. After all, Mother Nature has been using sunlight for millennia, making a myriad of chemicals from carbon dioxide and water via photosynthesis. And the fact is, fossil fuels are the remnants of sun-to-chemical production, which humans have been exploiting for the last few centuries as alternatives to the biomass that our ancestors used for cooking and heating needs. As the energy demands of the human species continue to grow, due to both population growth and usage, it doesn’t take more than a back-of-the-envelope calculation to show that eventually, our reliance on fossil fuels will come to an end — it’s simply a question of when. After all, there is only a finite amount of coal, gas and petroleum. And in the last few decades, most of the conscientious scientific and industrial community have realized that something needs to be done to slow down the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Planning for future generations, efforts around the world are growing to ween our current dependence on…
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  • I know this is Chemical Engineering Magazine, but chemical engineers are needed in biochemical solar-based processes. For example Algenol, Synthetic Genomics (and Joule Unlimited et al before they crashed) are all working on using genetically-modified organisms (often algae) to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide directly to hydrocarbon fourth-generation biofuels.

    Best,

    –Keith
    @KeithDPatch


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