One of the research team from the Californian university of Berkeley and from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have published a scientific paper on the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) about a new hybrid bioinorganic methane-producing system. This process uses the sunlight in order to produce methane in the most efficient way and eliminating the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The new renewable methane, working by this new, biological and inorganic system, could replace the normal methane fossil fuel. The new gas will be synthetize using several specific microorganisms working with photovoltaic-produced-hydrogen. The energy of the sun is used to separate the water molecule in oxygen and hydrogen. The latter is transferred to specific bacteria – Methanosarcina-barkeri – which can convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into methane. It is, actually, an artificial hybrid photosynthesis process working as for plants. The difference is the final product: for plants is carbs and for the artificial one is methane.
According to the professor Christofer J. Chang, Berkeley University, “is possible to reach a 50% electrical/chemical efficiency and 10% solar/chemical efficiency, pairing this system to the best solar panels on the market and to the best electrolytic cells available. Methane has been chosen because of the separation facility and because of the integration potential with the existing natural gas infrastructure.”
Professor Leonardo Guidoni, chemical researcher at the L’Aquila University, said that “the hydrogen has been used as additive in order to power the chemical reaction in a natural process as the photosynthesis”. The technical-energetic application of the process are a lot, and “is not just possible to produce fuel energy as methane absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it is also possible to use sun energy, which is renewable”.