Energy and Nature - an eternal challenge

Leptospirillum

Self-organized electron transfer

Most chemical energy conversion processes require the transfer of several electrons, a so-called multi-electron transfer. This poses a big challenge for catalysis. Energy efficient water splitting, for example, requires that four electrons are extracted from water with equivalent minimum energy consumption. The problem is that extraction of a first electron already requires more than twice that minimum energy.  How can electron transfer be manipulated for minimum energy loss. The proposed solution is a catalytic system, where the first electron extraction is linked via feedback processes to the subsequent electron extraction steps. Mathematical calculation shows that then the first electron can be made to “slave” the subsequent ones, like photons do it in a laser, for an energy efficient collective multi-electron transfer process (e.g. ref. 163, 233, 284).

Fig.: Bacteria such as Leptospirillum ferrooxidans (a) grow on pyrite and transform it into nano-particles, visible in fig. b) and with its crystal lattice in c).
d) shows the corresponding electron diffraction pattern.
The chemical energy of pyrite is then used for carbon dioxide fixation. Man could attempt employing the skills of bacteria.