Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy
MOLECULAR-LEVEL LEARNING FROM NATURAL SYSTEMS
Report of a Workshop
Committee on Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Award DE-SC0002584 and the National Science Foundation under Grant CBET-0948076.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or of the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Cover image: Shewanella oneidensis by Rizlan Bencheikh and Bruce Arey, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
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COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH FRONTEIRS
IN BIOINSPIRED ENERGY
GREGORY A. PETSKO, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
JOHN GOLBECK, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
JULIE MAUPIIN-FURLOW, University of Florida, Gainesville
DOUGLAS RAY, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
JAMES C. LIAO, University of California, Los Angeles
National Research Council Staff
TINA M. MASCIANGIOLI, Study Director
ERICKA MCGOWAN, Program Officer (until April 2011)
SHEENA SIDDIQUI, Senior Program Associate
AMANDA CLINE, Administrative Assistant
RACHEL YANCEY, Program Assistant
DOROTHY ZOLANDZ, Board Director
BOARD ON CHEMICAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY
PABLO DEBENEDETTI, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
C. DALE POULTER, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
ZHENAN BAO, Stanford University, Stanford, California
ROBERT BERGMAN, University of California, Berkeley
HENRY BRYNDZA, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Wilmington, Delaware
EMILY CARTER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
DAVID W. CHRISTIANSON, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
MARY JANE HAGENSON, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LLC, The Woodlands, Texas
CAROL J. HENRY, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
JILL HRUBY, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico
MICHAEL C. KERBY, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Baytown, Texas
CHARLES E. KOLB, Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, Massachusetts
JOSEF MICHL, University of Colorado, Boulder
SANDER MILLS, Merck Research Laboratories, Kenilworth, New Jersey
DAVID L. MORSE, Corning Incorporated, Corning, New York
ROBERT E. ROBERTS, Institute for Defense Analyses, Washington, D.C.
DARLENE J. S. SOLOMON, Agilent Technologies, Inc., Santa Clara, California
JEAN TOM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, West Windsor, New Jersey
DAVID WALT, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
National Research Council Staff
DOROTHY ZOLANDZ, Director
DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN, Program Officer
KATHRYN HUGHES, Program Officer
TINA M. MASCIANGIOLI, Senior Program Officer
AMAMANDADA CLINE, Administrative Assistant
SHEENA SIDDIQUI, Senior Program Associate
RACHEL YANCEY, Program Assistant
In May 2007, the National Academies Chemical Sciences Roundtable held a public workshop on the topic of Bioinspired Chemistry for Energy,1 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 workshop described in this report, titled Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy: Molecular-Level Learning from Natural Systems. The workshop featured invited presentations and included 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
1 National Research Council. 2008. Bioinspired Chemistry for Energy: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
boundaries. Presentations and discussions focused on molecular-level understanding rather than development of large-scale applications.
While reading this document, we sincerely hope you will come across a statement, figure, or discussion topic that entices you to collaborate or to interact with researchers in other disciplines or sectors in the area of bioinspired energy. Although not comprehensive, this report should provide a good overview of some of the exciting and broad ranges of approaches scientists and engineers are exploring at the interfaces of chemistry, biology, geology, engineering, and energy applications.
The Committee on Research Frontiers in Bioinspired Energy:
Molecular-Level Learning from Natural Systems
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published summary as sound as possible and to ensure that the summary meets institutional standards for clarity, objectivity, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this workshop summary:
Steven Chuang, University of Akron
Sharon Haynie, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company
Charles E. Kolb, Aerodyne Research, Inc.
Michael Ladisch, Purdue University
Nikolai Lebedev, Naval Research Laboratory
Frances S. Ligler (National Academy of Engineering), Naval Research Laboratory
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they did not see the final draft of the workshop summary before its release. The review of this summary was overseen by Marye Anne Fox (National Academy of Sciences), University
of California, San Diego. Appointed by the National Research Council, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this summary was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this summary rests entirely with the authors and the institution.