Creating fuel from thin air with artificial leaves


Artificial leaves could one day provide fuel

The sun produces more than enough energy for human activities, but we still can’t capture enough of it, points out Erwin Reisner, energy and sustainability professor at Cambridge University.

He heads a team of researchers trying to capture more of that free energy.

While solar panels have made big advances in recent years, becoming cheaper and more efficient, they just provide electricity, not storable liquid fuels, which are still in great demand.

“If you look at the global energy portfolio and what’s needed, electricity only covers maybe 20-25%. So the question is when we have covered that 25%, what do we do next?” asks Prof Reisner.

His answer is to look to nature: “Plants are a huge inspiration, because they have learned over millions of years how to take up sunlight and store the energy in energy carriers.

“I really believe that artificial photosynthesis will be one part of that energy portfolio over the next two decades.”

When plants photosynthesise, they take up water and carbon dioxide, and use light from the sun to convert these raw materials into the carbohydrates they need for growth.

Erwin Reisner, professor of energy and sustainability at Cambridge University
Prof Reisner is optimistic artificial photosynthesis will become an important energy provider

“We want to replicate this, but we don’t really want to make carbohydrates because they make a lousy fuel, so instead of making carbohydrates we try to make something that can be more readily used,” says Prof Reisner.

An added problem is that plants aren’t actually terribly good at photosynthesis, converting only around one or two per cent of solar energy into fuel. The US Department of Energy has concluded that for artificial photosynthesis to be viable economically, efficiency needs to rise to between five and 10%.

Prof Reisner’s team has worked on a number of

New Thin Film Technology to Revolutionize Storage and Distribution of Biologic Treatments and Vaccines


AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Jurata Thin Film, a company focused on revolutionizing how biologics are shipped and stored, is bringing to market a new technology that allows biologics and vaccines to be packaged, shipped and stored at room temperature for extended periods of time. The first-of-its-kind technology enables up to 500 doses of vaccine to be placed on a single wafer-thin, 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of film, weighing one-hundredth of a pound (5g).

Known as MSI-TX Thin Film™, the technology represents a fundamental shift in biologic packaging and storage technology that removes the need for specialized storage containers and -80º C (-140º F) freezers that today are required to ship and store biologics.

MSI-TX Thin Film also removes the dependency on mass quantities of glass vials (currently in short supply) and removes virtually all distribution limitations. If the biopharma industry embraces and successfully integrates the technology into their manufacturing and finishing processes, the result will be accelerated delivery and access to vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases for all 7.8 billion people in the world at substantially less time and cost with the same therapeutic quality and payload potency.

MSI-TX Thin Film is a proprietary surfactant-stabilized cellulose matrix material, first published in 2015 by Maria Croyle, RPh, PhD, and her laboratory at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy, in Austin, TX. The film itself, as well as the transfer and reconstitution process have been thoroughly tested and are now ready for commercial use. This research advancement spurred the formation of Jurata Thin Film, headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with research & development taking place in Austin, Texas.

“This is truly groundbreaking technology that can fill a critical need to meet the packaging and distribution challenges for COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr.