Scientists from Osaka Metropolitan University have found a way to synthesize fumaric acid, a raw material using for producing the biodegradable plastic polybutylene succinate, using artificial photosynthesis. The plastic, typically made from petroleum, was synthesized from carbon dioxide, biomass-derived compounds, and solar energy.

The study, published in the journal Sustainable Energy & Fuels, documents the first time that fumaric acid has been successfully synthesized from carbon dioxide and sunlight. The research shows that fumaric acid can be made from carbon dioxide and biomass rather than petroleum.

“Toward the practical application of artificial photosynthesis, this research has succeeded in using visible light — renewable energy — as the power source,” Yutaka Amao, professor from the Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Osaka Metropolitan University and study author, said in a statement. “In the future, we aim to collect gaseous CO2 and use it to synthesize fumaric acid directly through artificial photosynthesis.”

According to the authors, fumarate is typically synthesized from petroleum and emits high amounts of carbon dioxide when produced. The findings show promise in using solar energy and carbon dioxide rather than fossil fuels to produce this resource.

Read the full article about biodegradable plastic by Paige Bennett at EcoWatch.