Plants are known as producers, because of the unique ability to prepare food from carbon dioxide and water with the help of solar radiation. We know that Sun is the most abundant source of energy in the world. But our technology is not enough to harness this energy efficiently. Here is the significance of plants. They are the only producers in the world. No other living organisms can prepare food itself. Most of the producers operate nearly at 100 percent quantum efficiency. Literally, plants and solar cells are similar in operation. During photosynthesis chlorophyll converts each and every photons falling on it to electrons. It means their efficiency of conversion is 100 percent.
How Does Plants Convert Photons to Electrons?
Yes, good question! Here I am going to explain the secret behind the conversion of photons to electrons in simple sentences. We know plants need water and carbon dioxide to produce food in the cells during photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plant use sun light to split the water molecules into Hydrogen and Oxygen. As a result electrons get released, which help the plant in sugar production. Got it?
Can't we design a machines that produces food from water and carbon dioxide with the help of sun light? Don't think you have gotten a patent! There are several ongoing researches all around the world to design such a machine, an Artifical Photosynthesis Machine. Do you think it's possible? Today, plants are the only producers in the world. We are exploiting everything they produce for their own growth and reproduction. I am very afraid about the consequences that may arise if those clever guys succeed in designing such a machine,a machine plant. It is very Interesting but we should care about it.
Solar panels converts photons to electrons. (but the efficiency is very poor, about 12-15 percent). But plant converts photon to electron with nearly 100 percent quantum efficiency. Researchers at the University of Georgia used their brain and have developed a way to interrupt photosynthesis so that they can capture the electrons before the plant uses them to make sugar.
I think this discovery is a milestone in the world history. A step toward building an Energy Secure Earth. We are unable to convert more than a tiny fraction of solar radiation to electricity by using solar panels. Researchers at the University of Georgia are now developing a new technology that makes it possible to use plants to produce electricity. Here you can read more about this story. Power Plants: UGA Researchers Explore How to Harvest Electricity directly from plants
How to Trap Electrons From Plant Cell?
1. Seperating out Thylakoids (structures in plants, responsible for
solar energy capturing and storing)
2. Manipulating the proteins in thylakoids
3. This process interrupt the path way along which electrons flow.
4. Immobilization of thylakoids on a specially designed backing of
carbon nano tubes (to act as an electrical conductor).
My Opinion About This Research
I think this plant based systems can provide clean energy for the world. I hope it will help in securing the Earth from Energy scarcity. But the experimental design is unable to produce more power (but modest electrical output). But it is inspiring that, 30 years ago hydrogen fuel cells where in their infancy. But now there are everything (cars, buses, buildings etc) that powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Actually this plant system does not manipulate any machinaries. The secret of converting the water and carbon dioxide to sugar is stillconfusing. We are only able to trap some electrons during the photosynthesis. I think, building an efficient artificial Photosynthesis machine is impossible in near future. What do you think about Artifical Photosynthesis? Do you know the consequences of Artificial Photosynthesis? Comment your opinion about this story and show your passion!