Scientists Use Photosynthesis as Source of Solar Energy

A team of researchers have recently based their new discovery on a natural process in the plant world.

A study from the Monash University in Melbourne is looking into the possibility of creating a new device based on photosynthesis, a natural process occurring in plants to convert sunlight into forms of energy they can use. The Australian team believes that by harnessing the naturally occurring mechanism, they can create a different kind of panel that is more efficient than existing solar panels.

The study, published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, uses the concept of photosynthesis by using solar energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter of which is a highly potent fuel compound. The result of using hydrogen fuel from water is an energy-generating mechanism with absolutely no carbon footprint.

On top of this, the scientists said the energy efficiency of their invention can reach up to 22 percent, compared with traditional solar panels that achieve only up to 18 percent. But, the team is keen on reaching a 30-percent energy efficiency mark.

Study lead author Professor Doug MacFarlane, who is also active in Melbourne’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, said that despite the promising results of their study, it may take a while for the mechanism to take off. Solar panel makers may be hesitant to start using the new technology, considering the price of electricity is still manageable for average consumers.

Developments in the field of solar energy are ongoing. With more residents and corporate offices already embracing this new power source, it will only be a matter of time when renewable energy sources becomes the norm.

[Photo courtesy of Bex Ross on Flickr]