By David Biello -
Here's a new way to make fuel from sunlight: starve a microbe nearly to death, then feed it carbon dioxide and hydrogen produced with the help of voltage from a solar panel. A newly developed bioreactor feeds microbes with hydrogen from water split by special catalysts connected in a circuit with photovoltaics. Such a battery like system may beat either purely biological or purely technological systems at turning sunlight into fuels and other useful molecules, the researchers now claim.
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Ref: Efficient solar-to-fuels production from a hybrid microbial–water-splitting catalyst system. February 9, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424872112 | PNAS February 9, 2015