Fernando Uribe-Romo is an Assistant Professor from the University of Central Florida (UCF) who has successfully mimicked the natural plant ability to turn light into energy using blue light. From his research, Uribe-Romo and his students have converted carbon dioxide into oxygen and into two reduced forms of carbon: formate and formamides.
They use a metal-organic framework (MOF), which is a synthetic material made out of titanium with an organic molecule as its “antenna”. According to Uribe-Romo, the MOF molecules are arranged with enough empty space for carbon dioxide to diffuse inside. With the addition of the energy from blue light, the carbon dioxide reduces into formate or formamides. This artificial photosynthesis technology from the UCF has the potential to recycle carbon dioxide emissions and convert it into reduced forms of carbon that can be used as fuel. For example, the formate and formamides that are produced from the artificial photosynthesis can be used as fuel for power plants.
The wide interest in artificial photosynthesis comes from the need to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Scientists want to find ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen and reduced forms of carbon that can be used as fuel.