Thursday, October 1, 2015

Can We Capture and Utilize the Electrons Produced Through Photosynthesis?

We were taught about photosynthesis in school – a process through which plants convert sunlight into food. Approximately all of the photons captured by plants from sunlight are turned into electrons, which then go through further processes to generate sugars.

But, did you know that photosynthesis can be interrupted to capture and utilize the electrons produced through it? A study conducted by the University of Georgia is focused on harnessing the power of these electrons to generate electricity.

How is it possible? 

The key is in extracting certain parts of plants that lead to thylakoids, the photosynthetic reaction, and then immobilize them on a bed of carbon nanotubes that will play the role of effective electrical conductors to capture and send the electrons on, along the wire. Then, with a consistent light flow, there will also be a continuous flow of electrons that can be converted to electrical power.

The roadmap ahead

The scholars agree that there is still a lot to cover and more complicated processes to be handled in relation to taking the thylakoids out of a plant. They believe that this machinery would eventually have to be genetically engineered to maintain stability throughout the process and completely harness the potential of the system.

Once the system is stably in place, the researchers believe that the applications for this technology are endless. This entirely clean energy source will be capable of acting as a true source of electricity for various machinery and for remote locations.

While the technology is still being enhanced and optimized, existing alternative sources of electricity, like rental power plants, can fill in the gap in power supply, where and when needed. Temporary power plants, which do not call for a huge CAPEX, can be easily deployed and installed at almost any conceivable location or site on Earth. They can be tailored to precisely respond to the power needs of any operation, and can be ramped up or scaled down depending on the requirement. They do not require extensive civil work to begin operating, and can function even without substations. Moreover, modern rental power stations are environmentally friendly, at times even doing better than the global emission benchmark.


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