We have heard that photosynthesis is the process by which a plant converts solar energy to chemical energy by using chlorophyll. What you might not know is that scientists in France have discovered a way to use the same photosynthesis into electrical energy.
Biofuels past and present
Think about it. Using biofuels is no new thing. Perhaps the earliest form of biofuel we used is when horse drawn carriages were our main mode of transportation. During those days even the trains used to run on wood. It is ironic today that transportation has become a major contributor to greenhouse gases and global warming, the reasons why biofuels is needed again. Today biofuel is making a comeback with popular biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. Recently a new source of biofuel has been discovered-photosynthesis.
Scientists at the French Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal (CNRS) have created a biofuel cell that works on the by-products of photosynthesis, namely glucose and oxygen. Photosynthesis produces carbohydrates which is the fuel for all living things. At the heart of this new biofuel cell are two enzyme-modified electrodes. These were inserted into a cactus plant.
At the heart of this new biofuel cell are two enzyme-modified electrodes.
The scientists then used a desk lamp and were able to monitor how much electricity was created while a lamp was switched on or off. This biofuel cell when inserted into a cactus leaf could generate power of 9 W per cm2. The more light the plant was exposed to, the more electricity was created. The additional light helped the plant to produce extra glucose and oxygen. This in turn powered the biofuel cell to work longer.
This cell has tremendous potential in the field of medicine. It could work under human skin (in vivo) and derive its energy from the glucose and oxygen that naturally occurs within our bodies.