Chapter 18: Future Perspectives on Solar Fuels
Published:07 Dec 2011
This chapter examines the future perspective that artificial photosynthesis (with timely and coordinated academic, governmental and corporate encouragement) may become a global phenomenon equitably providing inexpensive local (household and community) generation of fuels and basic foods from the simple raw materials of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. The challenge to rapidly develop nanotechnologically-based artificial photosynthesis according to such principles is first extrapolated by giving a future perspective on the scientific challenges considered in the three 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). The potential role of a Global Artificial Photosynthesis (GAP) Project in promptly advancing such areas according to the virtues and principles of social equity and environmental sustainability is evaluated.
A future perspective on solar fuels emphasizing such virtues and principles is by no means a certainty. It is just as likely that the dissemination of artificial photosynthetic systems will be restricted through, for example, corporate claims of intellectual monopoly privilege, as well as national struggles to secure technological advantage. Governance strategies for minimization of such obstacles to GAP and its benefits will be critically analyzed.