The energy demand of the world is rising rapidly due to ever-expanding economy, growing population, increasing urbanization, evolving lifestyles and rising spending power.
Thus, the world is leaving no stone unturned in making the most out of the available renewable energy resources. It already harnesses the solar and wind energy by means of photovoltaic cells. And, biofuels like ethanol and methanol also offer promising results as environmentally friendly, sustainable energy sources.
However, what if humans possessed the impeccable power to make their own energy, directly from the sun? Seems unachievable, right? However, the human race is about to make it a reality as a study published in the journal Chem Catalysis suggests.
What is artificial photosynthesis:
Photosynthesis, in its true sense is a combination of complex processes where plants convert the sun’s radiance and water molecules into usable energy in the form of glucose. For this, a pigment called chlorophyll, as well as proteins, enzymes and metals are used.
Artificial photosynthesis is a novel innovation in the field of Science, which can revolutionize the renewable energy landscape globally.
It is a process that mimics the biochemical reactions performed during a natural photosynthesis. Artificial photosynthesis includes an enzyme bed reactor to fix CO2 in the air. This reactor is fueled by hydrogen energy and bioelectric transducers.
How it’s done?
There’s no single authenticated mechanism for undertaking the process of artificial photosynthesis. However, the key components of an overall artificial photosynthesis process are:
– Photovoltaic cell panels for electricity production to meet the electrical energy requirement of the system.
– Dry agriculture: Dry agricultural waste in the form of carbohydrates, liquid fuels, chemical feedstocks, and polymers for fiber manufacture can be produced with minimal water requirements. The process can thus lower conventional use of water in agriculture by a thousand times.
– Hydrogen production: electrochemical water dissociation into H2 and O2 is accomplished by mimicking photosynthesis.
Boon to humanity:
– Environment friendly: The world is on the verge of achieving the feat of mimicking natural photosynthesis to harness clean, sustainable and efficient fuel.
Ample energy strikes the earth in the form of sunlight. And, in just one hour it can produce enough to meet the energy needs of human civilization for an entire year.
– Increased efficiency: The ability to store the energy easily and optimally, without having to require bulky batteries, would drastically improve humans’ ability to power society sustainably. This could open a whole new dimension of clean energy.
Photovoltaic technology is so far the closest process to photosynthesis that converts solar energy into electrical energy. However, where the process of photosynthesis is capable of harnessing 60% of the sun’s energy, PV cells are capable of only 20%.
– Unlimited Power: While the efficiency of simple photovoltaic cells is limited to the power of semiconductors and cells, the power generated from artificial photosynthesis will be virtually limitless.
The road until here was a chequered one as the scientists have been working tirelessly on artificial photosynthesis for the last five decades.
That’s a long time, however photosynthesis in itself took millions of years to evolve. And, unlike other rapidly evolving processes it has evolved only once in about 3 billion years.