SBIR Phase I:A Hybrid Metamaterial for Solar Methanol Production
This SBIR Phase I project will develop a device that will perform methanol synthesis from CO2 and H2O using sunlight by mimicking the photosynthetic process taking place in plants and certain bacteria. A solar methanol biofuel generating device will be fabricated that uses a light-trapping metamaterial substrate and a bio-inspired de novo designed protein domain which will generate biofuels when modularly connected to enzyme domains directly derived from Nature. The project combines the powerful light-concentrating abilities of metamaterial composites with light-harvesting capabilities of proteins that mimic photosynthetic structures. The combination of metamaterials and light-harvesting proteins with additional protein components capable of carrying out chemical catalysis allows for the creation of inexpensive, robust and regenerative fuel cells that cycle between atmospheric carbon dioxide and methanol.
The broader/commercial impact of the project will be production of methanol in a non-expensive manner. Methanol will find applications in the biodiesel industry and thus will have a positive impact on the energy and transportation sectors.
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