Industrial nations in general and the United States of America in particular are facing an unprecedented combination of economic and environmental challenges. First, they face the formidable challenge to meet expanding energy needs without adding intolerable amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and further impacting climate and the environment. The reserves of cheap natural resources the world has been relying on for decades are now estimated in tens of years. Evidence of global warming already gathered around the globe and, most likely, due to industrial activities will put an additional stress on the fragile balance we have been enjoying. In order to face these formidable challenges and to create technological and economic opportunities, the United States should reduce its dependency on foreign fossil fuels and rely more on a combination of (i) sustainable energy conversion and transportation systems, (ii) oil-free energy sources, and (iii) new technologies for capturing and converting carbon dioxide.
Photosynthesis begins with the absorption of photons by the photosynthetic apparatus which consists of three major components (i) the reaction center, (ii) the core antenna, and (iii) the peripheral antenna. Photochemical charge separation and electron transport take place in the reaction center. The core antenna contains the photosynthetic pigments chlorophylls or bacteriochlorophylls. It is surrounded by the peripheral antenna which is an assembly of chlorophylls, bacteriochlorophylls, and other accessory pigments such as carotenoids and phycobiliproteins. The peripheral antenna is particularly important in channeling additional photon energy to the reaction center at small light intensities. In microalgae and cyanobacteria, the photosynthetic apparatus is located on the photosynthetic membrane called thylakoid. Different pigment molecules absorb over different spectral bands of the visible and near infrared parts of the spectrum enabling more efficient utilization of solar energy.
Cyanobacteria produce hydrogen and oxygen by (i) consuming the CO2 gas as their carbon source and (ii) absorbing solar light as their energy source.
The objective of our effort is to perform a comprehensive study to simultaneously mitigate carbon dioxide and produce biofuels. It offers a cheap, efficient, scalable, autonomous, and reliable system for producing hydrogen from microbial consumption of carbon dioxide and absorption of solar light.
L. Pilon, H. Berberoğlu, and R. Kandilian, 2011. Radiation Transfer in Photobiological CO2 Fixation and Fuel Productionby Microalgae, Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiation Transfer, Vol. 112, no. 17, pp. 2639–2660. doi10.1016/j.jqsrt.2011.07.004