In the previous months we have looked at the detailed discovery of how scientists can now generate green energy from bio-cells produced from plants. The process they have found to be the most beneficial in harnessing energy is through photosynthesis, because the constant flow of energy is stable. Now researchers and scientists have dug a little deeper conceptualizing that idea into a tangible form of renewable energy – synthesis gas, or syngas.
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have applied the principle of harnessing the energy from photosynthesis and deriving new sustainable processes to develop the new form of energy. Syngas can be used for large-scale industrial facilities, and be advanced to charge batteries. Synthesis gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, mainly used as a based substance for many chemical mix-ups such as ammonia, methanol, and synthetic hydrogen fuels. Unfortunately, syngas is currently only being made exclusively with fossil raw materials, but TUM researchers plan to change that. Getting their inspiration from the photosynthesis processual phenomenon, they developed a yellow powder that imitates the properties of the enzymes involved in photosynthesis. Naturally, in order for photosynthesis to occur, there needs to be a collection of carbon dioxide and water that is absorbed through the plant and expelled off. The newly developed nanomaterial, or nano enzyme, produces the syngas with the same necessary components of carbon dioxide, water and light.
To dive a little deeper into the intricate developmental process, Dr. Phillip Stanley breaks down the internal changes made in order to receive success. Within photosynthesis, molecules are responsible for generating the energy antenna, which is then used as a reactor to collect energy from light, stimulating the electrons that eventually flow into the reaction center, or the catalyst. The catalyst acts as a hub for energy and is the main harnessable source. Now, through careful design, the researchers have created two reaction centers, both responsible for converting and carrying different energy sources. One converts carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, while the other turns water into hydrogen.
"We succeed in converting as much as one third of the photons into chemical energy. Previous systems often attained every tenth photon at best. This result raises hopes that the technical realization could make industrial chemical processes more sustainable," stated Stanley.
Directly related, but written out as a different project, these researchers are working on developing another material that uses light from the sun and stores it as electric energy. This can be utilized in battery charge ups and other electrical applications. The new found source of energy can be groundbreaking in the industrial world, and birth a new generation of sustainable materials and appliances.