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Synthetic leaf plan against global warming

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/08/2016

New Zealand researchers are looking to learn from nature in their bid to combat global warming by creating a synthetic leaf to use or consume carbon dioxide.

The University of Canterbury (UC) team of Dr Alex Yip, Iman Hashemizadeh and Dr Vladimir Golovko is taking photosynthesis in natural green leaves as the blueprint to develop a "sunlight-driven" process to use or consume CO2, a primary greenhouse gas.

The team has received funding from the Royal Society of NZ Catalyst Fund and the project - Decorating Artificial TiO2 leaves for Effective Carbon Dioxide Capture and Usage - is in collaboration with the City University of Hong Kong.

Dr Yip says the United Nations climate summit in Paris last December set a target of limiting global warming to below 2deg Celsius above pre-industrial times.

"We believe chemical processes that capture and convert waste CO2 into useful chemicals are viable pathways to cut CO2 emissions," he said.

Dr Yip said the New Zealand team had successfully replicated the key structures in natural leaves that are responsible for light-harvesting and photosynthesis using titanium dioxide (TiO2), a proven photocatalyst for CO2 reduction.

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