Artificial Photosynthesis

It’s getting closer:


Are you warning us?

Is this good or bad, and why?

How will this nanotechology affect us?

I’m as curious as a cat, and very interested in the answers.


Didn’t you read the article? Carbon dioxide would be turned into a liquid fuel.



I tried to read the article again, but it was incomplete this time.

My degrees are in history and ground radar theory, so I am woefully ignorant of chemistry. That is why I was asking you about the article.

Why are you bringing it to our attention? Obviously, I am missing something you are seeing in this story. Would you be willing to share this with me?


What it does not give is any information on the total impact to the environment or humans if this process is used.

We split the atom and one of the things it “promised” was free energy forever. Never happened and now we have all the waste products to worry about. (I am for nuke electrical plants)

We made ethanol from corn as a cheaper and cleaner way to run automobiles. So food prices went up, car engines are breaking down and the emissions are being considered as worse then fossil fuel pollution.

With the additives in fossil fuels (gas) available now being found in the water table and many of us getting sick from the toxic fumes our efforts to go green backfired.

We got rid of DDT and the peoples of the Third World are dying of easily preventable insect borne diseases. Turned out DDT is not toxic to humans. It also has a short life.

So yes let us look into the new technologies just please don’t dive in head first and break our necks or those of our children’s children.

Ground radar theory? Cool.

The point of this article is that plants draw carbon dioxide out of the air. This process can do the same. All they are waiting on is a few other links in the process. If carbon dioxide can be drawn out of the atmosphere this way, it could help with global warming and pay for itself by converting that carbon dioxide into a useful fuel. Plants need the carbon dioxide like we need air and they expel oxygen as a byproduct, which we need.

Hope this helps,

What is left for th plants to breathe? After all we need the oxygen and plants for food.


Thanks for the comment on the ground radar theory. I always wind up in jobs that are on their way to antiquity! It was fantasically useful in its time, but has been replaced by satellites and on-board computers. But it was very cool in its day.

Okay, now for more questions. Like the cat, I have a million of them, and the more answers I receive, the more questions I have. Ask any of my friends!

I understand the part about the plants taking in carbon dioxide, converting it, via photosynthesis, into fuel for the plant, and expelling oxygen.

Now, I wonder, while this may be a good thing to do artificially for making fuel and reducing “carbon footprints” and global warming, what will this do for the supply of carbon dioxide for the plants on this planet?

Before you laugh yourself silly, I will tell you something even more naive (prehaps). I had a friend once who thought that the use of solar power would deplete the sun of its energy. We spent an afternoon trying to disabuse him of that notion, to no avail.

But, unlike the sun, which, at this time, we have no control over, do we have a limited amount of carbon dioxide to fool with? I realize that we can produce carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels, etc. However, would there be a minimum level of CO2 we would need to keep the plant life and thereby the animal and human life alive? Would this process of artificial photosynthesis produce oxygen as a by product, as the plants do?

If so, this would be a great thing for space travel–which I am also very interested in.

Thanks for your patience,


This process would produce methanol. Direct methanol batteries are just hitting the market. They are claiming superiority over lithium-ion batteries in use right now.

Supposedly, carbon dioxide is a problem for the earth. Too much carbon dioxide and sunlight gets trapped in a greenhouse effect on earth instead of being reradiated out into space. The rain forests in South America and elsewhere, are being cut down for farming, raising cattle and other reasons, so there is less plant life to absorb carbon dioxide. This artificial photosyntehesis would help.

Using satellites and other methods, it should be possible to monitor actual carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, preventing overuse by devices like this. If, in fact, there is too much CO2 then this device would help.


What type of applications are these methanol batteries used for at this time?

This is the first time I have heard of them, but that is only my lack of study on the subject. Lithium batteries I am familiar with, as I use a few myself.

Is the methanol the liquid fuel the article was speaking of?

Can the methanol be made into a solid fuel? I’m thinking of the interior of batteries, such as the standard 9 volt, not the automobile type. One of the hazards of old radars were the capacitors. They were filled with an oil containing PVCs, making them a cancer risk when opened. Would this methanol pose the same type of hazard?

Peggy the Cat (but hopefully not Schrodinger’s cat!)

Here is the Sony device:


Methanol is toxic and flammable. However, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) voted in November 2005 to allow passengers to carry and use micro fuel cells and methanol fuel cartridges when aboard airplanes to power laptop computers and other consumer electronic devices. On September 24th, 2007, the US Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule making to allow airline passengers to carry fuel cell cartridges on board. The Department of Transportation issued a final ruling on April 30, 2008, permitting passengers and crew to carry an approved fuel cell with an installed methanol cartridge and up to two additional spare cartridges. It is worth noting that 200 ml maximum methanol cartridge volume allowed in the final ruling is double the 100 ml limit on liquids allowed by the Transportation and Security Administration in carry-on bags.


What’s next, artifical steak?

So is gasoline and lighter fluid. What is your point?



Thanks for the link. This is a very interesting looking device. Am I understanding correctly this is used for recharging the methanol batteries in a cell phone or some other small item? Is the methanol in the blue section a liquid?

I agree there are many useful items that are terribly flammable, but we learn to use them carefully.

On a related subject, what do you think about using algae as a biofuel, rather than corn or other food plants?

I do agree with Kathleen about the price of food, especially in third world countries, going way up, with the use of food plants for biofuel. I have always felt it was a sin to use a food for something other than eating, if it causes the price of staying alive to rise for others.

On the other hand, algae is easy to grow, and uses photosynthesis, does it not? It certainly grows well in my standing water! Or is that just the green stuff the rest of you call “moss” and we here in the Northwest call “lawn” and “roof decoration”? :slight_smile:


I thought they had already invented “artificial steak”–isn’t that hamburger?!

Yes, the blue liquid is the methanol. It would be used to charge cell phones and laptops.

I think the whole fuss over using food crops for ethanol production is the fault of the mega-farm corporations and not the public or government. They knew what would happen if corn was diverted for that purpose. Yes, algae would be a good source of bio-fuel. At the present time, it would be possible to do a lot with alternative fuels but you have to remember that the large oil companies still think we’ll be using gasoline for quite a few years to come.



I agree totally on the attitude the big oil companies have about new fuels. I rode on the last streetcars running in Los Angeles on the last day they ran, in 1962. I have always thought it highly suspicious about Firestone Tire company buying the Pacific Electric Company (the streetcars). Why would a tire company buy a mode of transportation that ran on rails?

Thanks for the explanation about the methanol. It must be fairly new, right? When my 18 year old son came home last night, I asked him about the batteries, and he had not heard of them. Thanks for allowing me to have the pleasure of putting something new over him! :wink:

Is this still a fairly expensive item?
Is this the only application we have so far for the artificial photosynthesis?
And since methanol is one of the by-products of this, does this mean that oxygen would not be a by-product?

Questions, always more questions!


None of which make me happy when flying. But then I guess when you are already sitting beside all that jet fuel it seems that something in the cabin that can explode and set off a chain reaction just does not make sense.

Also as an asthmatic toxic liquids in confined places just does not make sense to me on a personal basis. I am chemical reactive and it only takes a small amount to put me in an ambulance.

You make good points but it’s already been approved. Believe me, no one calls me to get my input. I can, of course, choose not to buy it. I’m not comfortable with it either.


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