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Contribution to Book
Ch 21. 'Future Perspectives on Solar Fuels'
Molecular Solar Fuels (2012)
  • Thomas A Faunce, Australian National University

This chapter opens by examining whether the research and development of molecular solar fuels will be characterized in future by its promotion of fundamental societal virtues such as equality and environmental sustainability. As a thought experiment, it presents a vision of some important elements of such a future world—one where energy is primarily not only a matter of global artificial photosynthesis (GAP), but of such virtues. Central to the future perspective presented here is nanotechnological construction with enhanced efficiency of each aspect of the natural photosynthetic process into units capable of inexpensive mass production for domestic use. This involves a vision of artificial photosynthesis research that incorporates the utilization of genetically-engineered (or even wholly synthetic) organisms undertaking photosynthesis, but emphasizes worldwide household utilization of structures that are chiefly a matter of engineered nanochemistry. The challenge of how to promptly develop nanotechnologically-based artificial photosynthesis is explored through a future perspective on the scientific challenges involved in three key areas covered by sections of this book: Light Capture (including light-harvesting complexes, synthetic pigment arrays and dye-sensitive solar cells), Photochemical Conversion (including structure of the photosynthetic reaction centres, optimizing photochemical quantum yield) and Energy Storage (including optimization of photosynthetic water oxidation and catalysis). As the world’s human population rises, GAP may take the pressure off natural photosynthesis as our primary (and water-intensive) source of food and fuel. The chapter concludes by considering how inequalities and injustices in the use of solar fuel technology can best be avoided or minimized.

  • Artificial photosynthesis,
  • solar fuels,
  • renewable energy,
  • sustainability,
  • energy policy,
  • common heritage of humanity
Publication Date
Wydrzynski T and Hillier W (eds)
Royal Society of Chemistry
Citation Information
Thomas A Faunce. "Ch 21. 'Future Perspectives on Solar Fuels'" Cambridge UKMolecular Solar Fuels (2012)
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