Global Engineering

Why Artificial Photosynthesis Can Be A Renewable Energy Source

The brand-new gold rush in the digital world is all about renewable energy. However, more than that, it is about making this energy reliable. This means that finding ways to not just generate it but to store it when it is not required and release it when it is necessary.

Like many other pioneering inventions, scientists have turned for encouragement to nature. The energy which our planet — and our main species — consume comes from the sun in one shape or form, or another. Besides solar, however, which is perhaps the first energy source which comes to mind when one mentions the sun, there is an alternative way to harness its energy: photosynthesis.

What Is Photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is the process, which is utilised by plants, algae as well as certain bacteria in order to harness energy from sunlight and then turn it into chemical energy.

There are two kinds of photosynthetic processes:

  • Oxygenic photosynthesis, as well as
  • Anoxygenic photosynthesis.

The overall principles of anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthesis are quite similar, however oxygenic photosynthesis is the most common. It is seen in plants, algae as well as cyanobacteria.

During the process of oxygenic photosynthesis, light energy transmits electrons from water (H2O) to carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to produce carbohydrates. During this transfer, the CO2 is “reduced,” or receives electrons. The water becomes “oxidised,” or loses electrons. Eventually, oxygen is delivered together with carbohydrates. Oxygenic photosynthesis serves as a counterbalance to respiration through taking in the carbon dioxide produced by all breathing organisms and reintroducing oxygen into the atmosphere.

On the other hand, anoxygenic photosynthesis makes use of electron donors – other than water. The process usually occurs in bacteria such as purple bacteria and green sulphur bacteria, which are primarily found in a variety of aquatic habitats.

Artificial Photosynthesis Explained

The study of artificial photosynthesis as a renewable energy source has been carried out for decades. This approach uses biomimetic techniques to replicate the process of natural photosynthesis, which (as we’ve explained above) uses abundant resources of sunlight, water as well as carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and energy-rich carbohydrates.

By replicating this operation, researchers have the ability to design systems which utilise these natural resources in order to move solar energy into chemical energy and then store it in the bonds of a fuel. This is a rewarding as a betting bonus NZ offers, on a different level.

Fuels that are able to be produced by artificial photosynthesis include hydrocarbons such as formic acid (HCOOH), methanol (CH3OH), carbon monoxide (CO), and methane (CH4), or pure hydrogen fuel. The chemical processes involved in artificial photosynthesis include the splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen, or the reduction of carbon dioxide into various hydrocarbons.

Advantages of artificial solar fuel production, through artificial photosynthesis, include the following:

  • The solar energy can be instantly converted and stored. In photovoltaic cells, light from the sun is converted into electricity and is then converted again into chemical energy for storage. During this process there is some necessary loss of energy which is associated with the second conversion.
  • The by-products of these types of reactions are environmentally friendly. Artificially photosynthesized fuel would be a carbon-neutral source of energy, which could be used for transportation or homes.