• What were the key issues raised or important information provided by the guest speakers in the plenary session?
  • Were there any new insights about the ways life forms capture, transform, and store energy at the molecular level?
  • How might new and existing information be applied in new ways—to create new energy systems?
  • What are the unique perspectives that each discipline brings to studying these processes and systems?
  • What are the research opportunities to advance the science, especially for interdisciplinary collaborations?
  • What are resource and educational needs for supporting long-term advances in bioinspired energy?

Some of the key issues discussed by breakout group participants during the workshop included defining the term “bioinspired”; exploring microbial diversity and setting priorities; developing and supporting research and collaborative models; supporting current and creating new opportunities for interdisciplinary education, training, and outreach; understanding microbial nanowires and fuel cells; understanding and applying synthetic biology to energy applications; and keeping the big picture in mind.


In trying to make the workshop material readily available to the public, the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology developed a hub for information relating to the Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy: Molecular-Level Learning from Natural Systems workshop. At the time of this publication, additional material relating to the workshop could be found at http://dels.nas.edu/global/bcst/bioinspired-energy. It includes speaker presentations, post-workshop interviews of speakers, and YouTube videos from speakers. Post-workshop interviews asked participants to briefly summarize the research they presented at the workshop and one key issue they believe was raised during the workshop. The YouTube videos showed workshop participants addressing the following questions:

  • Why are biological systems useful models for developing new sources of energy?
  • What can we learn about energy from biological systems?
  • What is one example of an energy device or technology that was inspired by a biological system?

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