Massive amounts of carbon dioxide are nowadays released into the atmosphere. Scientists say it is at its highest level in three million years. This causes huge damage to our environment because it makes the atmosphere become warmer by the minute. The burning of fossil fuels are said to be the main cause and this activity is not likely to be banished soon, since it represents an important source of energy. Because the Earth population is continually expanding, there is more necessity for energy than ever.
Therefore, technologies available are constantly looking for ways to produce energy and at the same time prevent carbon from being released into the atmosphere. A new study was published in the Nano Letters journal, related to how plants can help us live in a better environment. The paper is called “Nanowire-bacteria hybrids for unassisted solar carbon dioxide fixation to value-added chemicals.” A group of scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California have recorded their results after carrying out a research on the solar cell system that imitates photosynthesis. This research was funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science of the United States. It basically engages the use of bacteria and nanowires to recreate the process of artificial photosynthesis.
Through photosynthesis, plants transform light energy into chemical energy. Photosynthesis is a natural process through which oxygen is produced and carbon dioxide is reduced, involving chlorophyll in the process, a substance that helps absorb light. The process created by scientists is actually the synthesis of carbon dioxide and water acetate made possible by combining semiconductor nanowires and bacteria.
The system also captures CO2 from the plants. This gas can further be used to create fuels, drugs and biodegradable plastic, thus reducing the large quantities of dioxide from the atmosphere.
The scientists claim that this is a major breakthrough in science and represents a huge advance in technology. According to Peidong Yang, a representative of Division of Materials Sciences of Berkeley Laboratory, this research gives birth to a system that enables us to produce chemicals and fuels in a sustainable way and prevents us from extracting them from the earth. This system described as “green chemistry solar”, uses carbon dioxide that has already been captured.
Thus, this technique brings a solution to the stored carbon dioxide and gives it a good purpose. The result will most likely be a less accelerated global warming that comes with cleaner atmosphere.
The scientists intend to extend their research and reach an efficiency of ten percent in a cost effective manner. When that happens, the technology could become commercially available. It is an important study, representing a win-win situation for the planet, which could give us hope to live in a better environment by using green energy.
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