In May 2007, the National Academies Chemical Sciences Roundtable held a public workshop on the topic of Bioinspired Chemistry for Energy, where government, academic, and industry representatives discussed promising research developments in solar-generated fuels, hydrogen-processing enzymes, artificial photosynthetic systems, and biological-based fuel cells. Workshop participants identified the need for a follow-up activity that would explore bioinspired energy processes in more depth and involve a wider array of disciplines as speakers and participants. Particularly, workshop participants stressed the importance of holding a workshop that would include more researchers from the biological sciences and engineering, as well as those involved in technological advances that enable progress in understanding these systems.
Building upon the 2007 workshop, the National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology convened the Committee on Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy to organize a second workshop in 2011 which, according to the statement of task, would explore the molecular-level frontiers of energy processes in nature through an interactive, multidisciplinary, and public format. Specifically, the committee was charged to feature invited presentations and include discussion of key biological energy capture, storage, and transformation processes; gaps in knowledge and barriers to transitioning the current state of knowledge into applications; and underdeveloped research opportunities that might exist beyond disciplinary boundaries.
Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy is an account of what occurred at the 2011 workshop, and does not attempt to present any consensus findings or recommendations of the workshop participants. It summarizes the views expressed by workshop participants, and while the committee is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of the report as a record of what transpired at the workshop, the views contained in the report are not necessarily those of the committee.