Our current economic and industrial growth relies on fossil fuels that can be easily and economically
converted into energy and useful chemicals, but this economic model is endangered by the
depletion of these resources and by environmental problems as the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse
gases. To solve this dilemma, we can find inspiration in natural photosynthetic organisms that
consider CO2 as a carbon source and not as a waste, and power its transformation into valuable chemicals
with renewable solar energy. To transform this vision into a practical and affordable reality, several challenging scientific
and technical questions must be solved, including: the cost effective production of stable photocatalysts, the elucidation
of the mechanisms of formation of useful compounds from CO2, or the implementation of the technology using
scalable reactor concepts. This article presents a review of recent developments and patents related to “artificial photosynthesis”
systems, covering key aspects such as the transition from macro-sized photo-electrochemical cells to nanostructured
catalyst, the combination of these catalysts with organic or inorganic light sensitizers in order to extend the light
wavelength range in which they are active, and the design of artificial photosynthesis reactors.
Keywords: Artificial photosynthesis, carbon dioxide, light sensitizer, methanol economy, nanomaterial, photo electrochemical
cell, solar fuel.
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