Nature has its own incredibly efficient way of producing power from the sun--photosynthesis--so why not put it to work?
"Essentially, you grow a power plant in a field or in a fermenter," says Bruce, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee's Center for Environmental Biotechnology. "You don't have to pay for it in any real way other than allowing photosynthesis to do what it's done for billions of years."
Bruce and his colleagues poach particles from photosynthetic plants or bacteria and form them into so-called "nanoclusters" on small assemblages of metallic platinum. These photosystems produce very high-energy electrons that can be siphoned off for direct electrical power or used to stimulate the production of hydrogen atoms, usable as fuel in anything from cars to homes.
The system is far preferable to conventional photovoltaic solar power systems, because it doesn't require the complex manufacturing process of solar cells, which uses a number of toxic and limited materials. And since the photosynthetic particles are easily harvested--Bruce extracts them from garden-variety spinach using a standard kitchen food processor--it should be a lot cheaper.
It's also far more sustainable than most other energy production systems. "The motor, the engine you're using, is being built by nature using sunlight," says Bruce. "This can scale--it can be made in a highly decentralized manner. Every place on the planet can grow spinach."
if your car was a plug in, the electric could be generated by greens...i guess.
two points - one this is highly experimental pure science type of stuff, a real world implementation is probably years if not decades away
two - the goal isn't necessarily to make all cars run on lettuce... that is a nice goal to have but there are other smaller victories to shoot for - if for example the electricity to power your house was coming from a coal plant now it's greenery power plant, that's less emmisions, and possibly cheaper for the consumer
Cool idea but you have to wonder how much power you can generate with this. Also he says it uses platinum which isn't cheap. You also need to determine how much fertilizer and land are used by the process and how much polutants are released in the grinding and harvesting process to really compare apples to apples oh...er oil to spinach.