Earth’s biogeologic clock

21 09 2009

earth biogeologic clock

The major lineages of pigments involved in anoxygenic photosynthesis arose before the development of oxygenic photosynthesis. The six major bacterial lineages had largely developed by the mid-Archean, around 3000 to 2800 Ma, and perhaps much earlier. The early biosphere passed through a stage during which even its photosynthetic populations depended exclusively on abiotic sources of reducing power.

Source: David J. Des Marais, “When Did Photosynthesis Emerge on Earth?” Science, 289, 1703 – 1705 (2000)

FP7 Cooperation Programe on Energy

11 09 2009

The overall objective of Theme 5 (Energy) of EU Framework Program 7  is

Adapting the current energy system into a more sustainable one, less dependent on imported fuels and based on a diverse mix of energy sources, in particular renewables, energy carriers and non polluting sources; enhancing energy efficiency, including by rationalising use and storage of energy; addressing the pressing challenges of security of supply and climate change, whilst increasing the competitiveness of Europe’s industries.

The program is very technological, and project on photovoltaics have been reduced to crystalline silicon solar cells, without considering hybrid and organic photovoltaics. However there is one more speculative topic:

Topic ENERGY.2010.3.5-1: Liquid or gaseous fuel production using direct biological conversion of solar radiation

Contents/scope: Long-term research and development of processes and devices to convert directly solar energy into liquid or gaseous fuel through biological routes. This would involve a number of disciplines (biological, biochemical, biophysics, photochemistry, electrochemistry, etc.) and approaches (molecular and non-molecular, bio mimetic, biological construction) to implement new metabolic pathways in view of producing the fuel directly from solar radiation. The target fuels are high quality oils, alcohols or other substances suitable as liquid or gaseous fuels for transport, excluding hydrogen, methane and electricity. This topic targets novel technologies, where molecules or micro-organisms act as biofuel producers rather than as feedstock for Biofuels. This excludes state-of-the-art technologies for biofuel production (either 1st or 2nd generation).
Funding scheme: Collaborative Project.
Expected impact: The project shall lead the way towards highly efficient processes for direct solar radiation conversion into high quality fuels. It should have a strong positive potential impact on climate change mitigation and on sustainability issues.
Additional information: The participation of top class research groups from US and Japan could maximise the impact of this precompetitive topic. This will be considered in the evaluation.
Open in call: FP7-ENERGY-2010-1

Michael Grätzel wins prestigious 2009 Balzan Price

8 09 2009

The International Balzan Prize Foundation’s aim is to promote culture, the sciences and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples throughout the world. Each award is 1 million Swiss Francs (around $940,000 or about 660,000 euro); half of that amount must be destined for research, preferably involving young scientists.

Enric Banda (Research Professor of Geophysics at the Institute of Earth Sciences in Barcelona, Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC); President of Euroscience, Strasbourg ) read the motivation for the assignment of the Prize for Science of New Materials to Michael Grätzel: “for his many contributions to the Science of New Materials, and in particular for his invention and development of a new type of photovoltaic solar cell, the Dye Sensitized Cell, commonly known as the Grätzel Cell”.