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Solar Biofuels from Microorganisms
The aim of the workshop was to assess the potential of the light-driven oxidation of water and the evolution of hydrogen and carbon based fuels by existing photosynthetic microorganisms for the development of a sustainable infrastructure for the efficient production of biofuels. Exploration and optimization of direct routes for the conversion of solar energy by photosynthesis can lead to the production of solar fuels with much higher efficiency than current practice. These third generation biofuels require a systematic elimination of losses coupled to optimization of downstream conversion into fuel in minimally redundant systems that are redesigned and optimized by a variety of systems biology and synthetic biology methods. IN the workshop novel concepts for durable solar energy conversion of microorganisms to collect solar radiation, split water and convert atmospheric CO2 into environmentally clean fuels were discussed. A systems-based approach is required, ultimately achieving end-to-end integration of individual process steps.
In the workshop the challenges, the potential, and the roadmap towards sustainable biofuel production based on photosynthesis was discussed. Photosynthesizers like plants and bacteria are abundant in the biosphere and use solar energy to make oxygen from water and convert atmospheric CO2 into carbohydrates. The focus was on microorganisms, bacteria and algae, some of which can also produce hydrogen. Over the past decade remarkable progress has been achieved in understanding the basic mechanisms of photosynthesis from a structural and a mechanistic point of view. We are now at a stage that we can strive to understand and exploit the photosynthetic process at a higher level of complexity, that of membranes and the whole cell, in a direct relationship with biofuel production. To achieve this a link between the photosynthetic community and new methods from genomics will be fruitful.
A next step
will be to carry this to a higher level of scientific effort, where Europe is far
was connected to the
The workshop was organized very well by the staff of the Lorentz centre, and the support of Corrie Kuster and Martje Kruk in organizing the workshop is gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks also goes to the scientific coordinator, Henriette Jensenius, for moderating the board in the proposition stage for this topic, which is not entirely without controversy.