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A major challenge facing humanity is developing a renewable source of energy to replace our reliance on fossil fuels. The ideal source will be abundant, inexpensive, environmentally clean, and widely distributed geographically. Energy from the sun meets these criteria. Unfortunately, practical, cost effective technologies for conversion of sunlight directly into useful fuels do not exist, and new basic science is required. A blueprint for storage of solar energy in fuels does exist, however, in photosynthesis. Indeed, all of the fossil-fuel-based energy we consume today derives from sunlight that was harvested by photosynthetic organisms.
Recognizing the need for new science, the U.S. Department of Energy established the Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2009. A national energy frontier research center, Arizona State University's research group includes 11 faculty from School of Molecular Sciences and is housed within the ASU Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis.
Our goal is to adapt the the fundamental principles of natural photosynthesis to the man-made prduction of hydrogen or other fuels from sunlight.