Monday, October 14, 2013

Artificial photosynthesis, a promising technology for future energy production

What is artificial photosynthesis

It is a chemical process that replicates the natural process of photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. The artificial photosynthesis term is commonly used to refer to any scheme for capturing and storing the energy from sunlight in the chemical bonds of a fuel, a solar fuel.

Photosynthesis is a natural process to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into usable fuel and emitting useful oxygen in the process. Photo: de engineur

Promising technology for future energy production

The technology is absolutely promising! Prof. Michael Grätzel, a Swiss pioneer of artificial photosynthesis was awarded the world’s most prestigious technology award - the Millennium Prize - worth £660,000 (about RM3.35 million) for his effort and contribution towards development of future energy.

Since the 1970s, Grätzel has been developing the Dye-Sensitised Solar Cell (DSSC), a device that mimics the ability of plants to capture photons of light and turn them into electricity.

How it works

DSSCs use special dyes to capture the energy in light at different wavelengths, like the chlorophyll of plants. Although still under development, the excitement surrounding DSSCs lies in the fact that while they only convert around 11% of the light energy into electricity, which is well below the efficiency of conventional solar cells, they are much easier and cheaper to construct, and are expected to be much more cost-effective.

TheGreenMechanics: This reminds me of a researcher friend at a local university saying (or rather posting on his FB page) something like "charging your phone by plugging it to the tree". Well it's very possible!

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