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The closest I can find are thermophiles, but it seems they use the chemicals present in the hot environment for energy, not the heat itself.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome. Photosynthesis means synthesis fueled by photons. As a consequence, thermally driven 'photosynthesis' is technically impossible. Can you elaborate on your Q, add relevant considerations and your own findings so far? One-liners are discouraged. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 22 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD - heat(infra-red radiation) is composed of photons too, just longer wavelength than visible light, so it isn't technically impossible. You can certainly generate fluorescence from IR range, and fluorescence uses similar electron stimulation to photosynthesis $\endgroup$ – bob1 Apr 22 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @bob1 - Heat isn't the same as IR; objects can release IR and more so when their temperature rises. Objects can absorb IR and increase in temperature. Heat in itself is a vague term; it describes perceptually high temperatures. But that's subjective - what is high? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 22 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD, my understanding is that anything above 0K will emit IR. Conceptually IR is how a potential thermoautotroph could work, not that we know of any organisms that do work this way. $\endgroup$ – bob1 Apr 22 at 17:26
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Thermophiles are organisms that are capable of surviving high temperatures. It doesn't mean they use or harvest the thermal energy in any way. Normally proteins start to unfold and degrade at temperatures above about 41 °C and all other organisms have a hard time coping with the effects. Usually biology uses chemical energy. Photosynthesis is the one exception of a biological system converting the energy of photons directly into chemical energy stored in complex biomolecules for all others to use as nutrition. Organisms that do not rely on those complex biomolecules but can support themselves are called autotroph. So photosynthetic organisms are photoautotroph and micro organisms that use chemical energy from inorganic compounds are chemoautotroph. The inorganic compounds used can be as simple as decomposed water by radioactive decay.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome. OP asks for thermally-fueled 'photo'synthesis (thermosynthesis?), not for a definition of thermophiles. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Apr 22 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ OP wrote "it seems they use the chemicals present in the hot environment for energy" and OP is right about this. OP asks for "photosynthesis-like processes" and not for miraculous "thermally-fueled 'photo'synthesis". There is nothing wrong with asking if life is known that directly converts thermal energy. An to my knowledge the answer is: No! $\endgroup$ – xenoson Apr 22 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD Heat is certainly not a "vague term" but directionless energy not able to perform work. $\endgroup$ – xenoson Apr 22 at 17:02

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