Advancing Biotechnologies for Fuel Generation: Exploiting Transmembrane Cytochromes for Solar Energy Conversion

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Astbury Centre

Abstract

Solar energy is our most abundant energy source and has enormous potential as a clean and economical energy supply. We wish to tap into this under-utilised source of power and address the direct conversion of solar energy to a renewable fuel; a major technological challenge of our time. This PhD project will use Synthetic Biology principles to mimic the principles of plant photosynthesis. Hybrid systems will be designed and build in which light-harvesting nanoparticles (e.g., TiO2 or quantum dots) are coupled to redox-active proteins and enzymes, combining the catalytic specificity of enzymes with the photo-stability and light-harvesting capabilities of semi-conducting nanoparticles for fuel production.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1827308 Studentship BB/M011151/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Anna Stikane
 
Description The research has demonstrated a proof-of-concept that a conductive membrane protein can be coupled to inorganic light harvesting nano-particles, and thus use light energy to drive chemical reactions within a nano-compartment. Several ways of have been attempted on introducing hydrogen evolving catalysts within these proof-of-concept nano-compartments and work has been carried out aiming to map interaction of a conductive protein (MtrC) and titanium dioxide nanoparticles.
Exploitation Route The findings explore some ways to combine different materials (inorganic, organic and biological) into nano-compartments for converting solar energy to chemical energy. Further research is required to incorporate fuel producing catalyst. In addition, further characterization of the benefits and drawbacks of the energy transfer across the membrane should be made and compared with other nano-structured systems in order to increase the efficiency of solar to fuel energy conversion. The findings also relate to use of light energy to power an encapsulated reaction, which could potentially be further developed for chemical synthesis within chemical nano-reactors.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Caroline Ajo-Franklin 
Organisation Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We provided materials (protein and nanoparticles) to study their interactions and binding.
Collaborator Contribution The partners provided expertise and the equipment to study and identify interactions between our particles and protein.
Impact This collaboration has yielded in a successful visit and another upcoming visit to collect data.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UEA (MtrCAB) and UC (CQDs) 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration is a continuation of already existing collaboration between our research labs. As part of collaboration I have attended meetings and shared my data and expertise.
Collaborator Contribution As part of this collaboration my partners have attended meetings and shared their expertise of protein purification and nanoparticles. My partners have also provided me with a purified cytochrome protein and synthesized nano-particles.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration joining expertise from chemistry, biochemistry and bio-nano interface science. These collaboration has also resulted in a publication (doi: 10.1039/C8FD00163D ).
Start Year 2015
 
Description UEA (MtrCAB) and UC (CQDs) 
Organisation University of East Anglia
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration is a continuation of already existing collaboration between our research labs. As part of collaboration I have attended meetings and shared my data and expertise.
Collaborator Contribution As part of this collaboration my partners have attended meetings and shared their expertise of protein purification and nanoparticles. My partners have also provided me with a purified cytochrome protein and synthesized nano-particles.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration joining expertise from chemistry, biochemistry and bio-nano interface science. These collaboration has also resulted in a publication (doi: 10.1039/C8FD00163D ).
Start Year 2015
 
Description Discovery Zone 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Discovery Zone is an event run by primarily postgraduate students and researchers. the event gives local Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils the opportunity to try hands-on science in a whistle-stop session of science exploration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/outreach/schools/lfos.php