Solar Farming

  • Thursday, July 28, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , ,
  • Ever since the use of fossil fuels raised enough worries to begin a quest for a renewable energy source, sunlight has been one of the most sought after methods of power generation. From this quest to harness the sun mankind has created inefficient, but workable solar cells that convert light into electricity, along with monterous fusion reactors in an attempt to make our own "sun in a bottle". Despite these inventions, I'd say that without a significant breakthrough in either of these alternatives, we wont be able to power anything other than individual households even if they are implicated into our power grids en mass.

    Fusion reactors are promising, so I wont shoot that idea down, but why did we go through all the hassle of creating chemical substances that react with light to give off electrical energy when a much more complex but very well engineered natural substance does pretty much the same?

    Chlorophyll in plants convert sunlight into ATP and then from that, glucose. Its been around since the dawn of life on the planet, and, creation or evolution, it works at an efficiency much higher than machines. The only reason that we haven't been able to use it for fuel purposes is that the plant does not see the need to excrete fuel, only to grow and reproduce. Of the energy generated by a plant, a massive amount goes into growing its supporting structures, extracting nutrients from the soil and manufacturing chemicals used to reproduce, only a small amount by comparison is turned into stored sugar, which is of interest to us. What should be done is to engineer a simple plant cell that will at first take nutrients from its surrounding and divide for a set amount of cycles, then begin to grow massive amounts of chlorophyll and store large amounts of sugar, at a chemical que, the stored sugar is released into its surroundings, which would later be collected.

    An outdoor pool given sufficient nutrients and a sterile environment could easily house millions of such cells. Given if one cell could produce but one gram of sugar per day, the energy yield of such a pool will be much larger than if it was covered with conventional solar cells, artificially engineered enzymes and chemical cycles could be implanted onto the cells and speed up production, the whole process is very skin to a nuclear one in the sense that the energy created by one reaction is very little, but the number of reactions make the total substantial.


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