Researchers at the Australian National University have successfully replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, where a plant converts light and carbon dioxide into oxygen.
This discovery opens the door to future biological systems powered by sunlight, to affordably ‘manufacture’ our own hydrogen for use as fuel.
“Water is abundant and so is sunlight - it is an exciting prospect to use them to create hydrogen, and do it cheaply and safely,” ANU’s Dr Kastoori Hingorani said.
The research team altered a protein found in almost every living organism, with the process thereafter emitting no carbon and using no batteries or expensive metals.
Instead, the cycle uses the extraordinarily abundant fuels of sunlight and water to eventually create hydrogen, with water being the only by-product.
“This is the first time we have replicated the primary capture of energy from sunlight,” ANU’s Professor Ron Pace said.
“It’s the beginning of a whole suite of possibilities, such as creating a highly efficient fuel, or to trapping atmospheric carbon.”
The team believes its discovery could forever change the economy, through a technical advancement affordable enough for even developing countries to create their own fuel.
And just like it did with the petrol-electric hybrid Prius, Toyota may have its timing spot-on with the FCV as well.