If anybody’s going to reverse the global damage caused by our own self-destructive love of fossil fuels, it will be teams of scientists that are looking into an alternative energy source. And they do not disappoint – for years now they are racing to create artificial leaves and trees, in order to mimic photosynthesis.
Artificial photosynthesis is similar to real photosynthesis and relies on more than just collecting sunlight. Water and carbon dioxide are used alongside solar energy in order to produce fuel that can be used to power devices or stored for later use, depending on the circumstances.
At Boston College, there is a team of researchers who believe that – at least in theory- they have cracked the formula, thanks to a special catalyst that would allow their version of photosynthesis to take place.
“Research concerns the technology for direct solar energy storage. It addresses the critical challenge that solar energy is intermittent. It does so by directly harvesting solar energy and storing the energy in chemical bonds, similar to how photosynthesis is performed but with higher efficiencies and lower cost,” admitted the leader of the Boston College research team – professor Dunwei Wang.
The concept of space-based solar power has been around since 1970. The idea is to collect solar power in outer space and to distribute it to Earth. Did you know, that 55% – 60 % of Sun-energy is lost on its way through the Earth’s atmosphere?
Of course, space solar power is considered a very tempting form of sustainable or green energy and is very attractive to those seeking large-scale solutions to anthropogenic climate change or fossil fuel depletion, but how possible is that we will actually use this energy source?
Some major drawbacks include high research expenses as well s hostile space environment, but nevertheless, this energy source is being actively pursued by Japan, China, and Russia. In 2015 the China Academy for Space Technology (CAST) briefed their roadmap at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) where they showcased their roadmap to a 1 GW commercial system in 2050.
CO2 scrubbing trees
Chances are that CO2-emitting forms of energy generation are not going to completely go away any time soon, and even if they do, the atmosphere would retain their legacy of greenhouse gases. That is why researchers are trying to create trees that would scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.