Researchers from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have a plan to help humans settle on Mars. Their study shows a detailed analysis. In the last 80 years, UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Lab chemists are working on a biohybrid system. Because it combines bacteria and nanowires to capture sunlight energy. It converts carbon dioxide and water into building blocks for organic life. Nanowires are thin silicon wires. It measures one-hundredth the width of a human hair. It is excellent to use for electronic components, sensors, and solar cells.
What is Biohybrid? How it works using Carbon dioxide?
The biohybrid is capable of pulling Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on Earth. It makes organic compounds, as well as addresses climate change. Because it consumes an excess of human-produced CO2 in the atmosphere.
Berkeley chemists have been working on a hybrid system combining bacteria + nanowires that can capture the energy of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide & water into building blocks for organic molecules. #BerkeleyResearch ☀️🔬https://t.co/ByCIRusEjG
— UC Berkeley (@UCBerkeley) March 31, 2020
But the other requirement for this process, besides sunlight, is water. Which is relatively abundant on Mars near the polar ice caps. It likely lies frozen underground over most of the planet. Yang is a senior faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab and director of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute.
In his paper, the researchers report a breakthrough in packing the bacteria, Sporomusa ovata. It is packing into a “forest of nanowires” to achieve a record efficiency. 3.56% of the solar energy is converted and stored in carbon bonds. But in the form of a two-carbon molecule called acetate – essentially acetic acid, or vinegar.
These acetate molecules serve as basic blocks for various organic molecules. Because it plays a part in fuels and plastics to drugs. Several other organic products could potentially be made from acetate inside genetically engineered organisms, including bacteria or yeast.
Biohybrid is an important innovation. It will help humans reach other planets in the future. The research is published in a journal, Joule.
Yang’s lab continues to search for even more ways to increase the efficiency of the biohybrid. He is also currently exploring techniques for genetically engineering the bacteria. This makes them more versatile and therefore capable of producing a variety of organic compounds.
Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.