Researchers Develop a New Way to Harness Solar Energy

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With a greater focus being put on finding new sources of renewable energy, many around the world are experimenting with different methods of procuring power. Researchers have recently developed an interesting way of harnessing solar power that involves splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by adapting the photosynthetic machinery in plants.

This new study being led by academics at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, is using semi-artificial photosynthesis to find new ways to produce and contain solar energy. So far they have managed to use natural sunlight, biological components, and manmade technologies in order to convert the water.

Their research is now able to be used to radically change the systems currently in use for renewable energy production. Everything they have worked on is outlined in a paper published in Nature Energy, which goes into detail on how exactly the scientist at Reisner Laboratory developed their platform for unassisted solar-powered water splitting.

Artificial photosynthesis isn’t exactly a new discovery, in fact, it has been around for a few decades. Although, it has yet to be used as a viable means of renewable energy due to the fact that it currently needs catalysts to function, which are expensive and toxic. This has also made it difficult to scale the technology up to the industrial level.

The Cambridge research is part of an ever-growing field of research that looks into the semi-artificial photosynthesis process. Currently, researchers are attempting to change the process into a fully-artificial mechanism by utilizing enzymes that will produce the desired reactions.

Katarzyna Sokól, the first author and Ph.D. student at St John’s College, said “Hydrogenase is an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen. During evolution this process has been deactivated because it wasn’t necessary for survival but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to achieve the reaction we wanted – splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.” (

If researchers can perfect this technology and bring it to the industrial sector, it could help clear up one of the main stigmas that surround manufacturing. A common concern about the industry is its impact on the environment, but with all of the energy innovations that are being developed this negative quality could quickly become a thing of the past. For all the latest on energy and manufacturing keep checking back with us here at