Artificial leaf: This prototype from the Joint Center for
Artificial Photosynthesis Innovation Hub uses energy
from sunlight to isolate hydrogen from water.
Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis

Artificial Photosynthesis Effort Takes Root

A $122 million innovation hub could speed the development of devices for making fuel from water and sunlight.

Monday, October 22, 2012

While a debate rages about the government’s role in funding energy innovation, sparked by high-profile failures of government-backed companies such as Solyndra and A123 Systems, a less controversial federal clean-tech investment strategy has been quietly humming along, garnering bipartisan support. So-called innovation hubs, multidisciplinary research centers meant to emulate the legendary Bell Laboratories by combining scientific research with applied technology, have managed to get continued government funding even as Congress works to cut the overall federal budget.

Two years after first getting funding, one of the current hubs—a Caltech-based effort focused on using sunlight to make liquid fuels—says it has made substantial progress toward devices that convert sunlight and water into hydrogen and oxygen that could be used to power a car or generate electricity on demand. Eventually, the researchers hope to combine the hydrogen with carbon from carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels similar to gasoline or diesel.

Read more: Artificial Photosynthesis Effort Takes Root – Technology Review.

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