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The promise of artificial photosynthesis

By Philip Hunter   May 2004

It is still unclear where most of our energy will come from in the longer-term future. Solar power cannot produce industrial quantities of electricity, while the tide is turning against wind turbines because they spoil the landscape and too many would be needed to replace conventional generators. Nuclear energy remains in the doldrums. Fossil fuels continue to threaten global warming.

But a promising new contender is emerging: the harnessing of photosynthesis, the mechanism by which plants derive their energy. The idea is to create artificial systems that exploit the basic chemistry of photosynthesis in order to produce hydrogen or other…

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