BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Energy crisis

Solar Power

Copyright © 2005 David Monniaux

As of September 24th, 2013 there is a new world record for solar cell efficiency. The scientists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced that they have developed a new solar cell which converts, “44.7% of the solar spectrum’s energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, into electrical energy.” This new breakthrough pushes the scientific community one step closer to its goal of 50% efficiency.

The new cells are used in concentrator photovoltaics which are twice as efficient as the conventional PV power plants. The reason for the increased efficiency is the so-called III-V multi-junction solar cells which are made of of several different solar cells which absorb different wavelength ranges of the solar spectrum.

This new development in the field of alternative energy is incredibly important in our current energy crisis. The native country of the scientists from this section is the leading country in the world with regards to solar energy. Germany as a nation is devoted to making solar energy and other renewable energy sources their only source of electricity by 2050. This German renewable resource initiative is quite ahead of our own. What do you think about the future of using renewable resources and the goals of countries like Germany who hope to end their reliance on fossil fuels within the next half century?

Bacteria Makes Fuel?

      Now if you’re like me, you have been expressing some concern as to where we are going to get energy in the upcoming years.  The increasing price of oil and the inefficiencies of solar power definitely cause some reason to worry.  Lucky f0r us, a new development at the University of California, Davis, might just solve all of our problems.

Shota Atsumi and his team at UC Davis made ground breaking research in Cyanobacteria that could lead to a solution to our energy problems. This Blue-Green bacteria uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to create 2, 3 butanediol, which is a chemical that can be used to create paint, solvents, plastics and even fuel.  The Scientists identified the enzymes that carried out the reactions that they wanted, and “introduced the DNA for these enzymes into the cells.”  While the experiment was deemed unpredictable at first because they were unsure how enzymes would work in different organisms, the end result was that the Cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2, 3 butanediol per liter of growth medium.  This is a groundbreaking experiment because these scientists may have possibly taken the first steps to solving our energy crisis.  Imagine, we may be able create fuel and other resources by simply using the power of the Sun!

 

What do you guys think about this? Comment below.

 

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