Green Energy

Green energy is classified as a renewable, non or low polluting form of energy.  They are often site specific in that some sources work very well in one area but do not provide reliable or consistent sources in another.  Wind power and solar energy are both site specific forms of green energy and are better suited to augment more reliable sources.

Every scientist dreams, however, of a green energy source with the potential to provide an unlimited source of energy.  What better source of inspiration could there be than nature’s own powerhouse – the green plant?

Green Energy Research

Green Plants: Green algae are hope.

Green algae may provide the answer to unlimited green energy.

Purdue University physicists, Yulia Pushkar and postdoctoral researcher Lifen Yan are researching the photosynthetic processes in spinach to investigate the potential in these processes of developing a strong green energy source.

 “The proteins we study are part of the most efficient system ever built, capable of converting the energy from the sun into chemical energy with an unrivaled 60 percent efficiency.” – Yulia Pushkar

 Plants use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar, the form of chemical energy used by all living things.  Pushkar believes that investigation into the process of Photosystem II, one of the processes of photosynthesis, will lead to the  creation of an artificial photosynthesis system that would be able to produce green energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels.  A number of other research projects have been investigating similar avenues:

  • Researchers at Uppsala Universitet believe that hydrogen is the most promising fuel to replace fossil fuels and are looking also looking at Photosytem II, one of the pathways involved in photosynthesis as a promising mechanism but their research focuses on algae as opposed to spinach.
  • Dr. Thomas Happe, from the Ruhr Universitat Bochum has discovered that some types of green algae can produce hydrogen gas even in the dark under extreme stress;  they have an ancient enzyme that operates under stressful conditions that allows the algae to produce hydrogen in by breaking down sugars.
  • Ramaraja Ramasamy from the University of Georgia is part of a team that has used electron transfer in  chloroplasts and hijacked these electrons.  Electrons produced by plants during the process of photosynthesis are rerouted by modifying proteins in the chloroplast allowing this organelle to be suspended in a series of carbon nanotubules which capture the electrons and reroute them along a wire.  Essentially, current electricity is created.

Science is progressing in leaps and bounds. Fossil fuels are becoming more and more expensive and more importantly, the pollution they produce is past even unacceptable. Our climate is already experiencing the turmoil of change. Call it global warming or climate change, we are experiencing the harmful effects of years of abuse from our incessant need to consume energy. To be able to create clean, unlimited energy gleaning insight from the greatest energy producer on our planet would be, it is hoped, the way to our salvation without giving up too much of our insatiable need for energy.

What do think? Are green plants our salvation?

Check out some interesting ways to generate your own green energy:

 

 

 Sources

McLendon, Russell.  Scientists hack photosynthesis for electricity.  May 15, 2013.  Mother Nature Network.  July 24, 2014

Purdue University.  Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye.  July 23, 2014.  Science Daily.  July 24, 2014

Uppsala Universitet.  Surprising findings on hydrogen production in green algae.  April 15, 2013.  Science Daily.  July 24, 2014

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