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What biological process could we technically mimic to create solar energy converters?


Sir David King is a physical chemist, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and current President of the BA.“What biological process, such as the efficient harvesting of solar energy by the moving heads of sunflowers, could we technically mimic to create solar energy converters?  And how should we do it?”


One Response

  1. Through nanotechnology one would hope that we could engineer a synthetic thylakoid plastid in order to capture light energy and convert that energy to a charge, or indeed carbohydrate. However in most systems these attempts have been thwarted by breakdown of the chlorophyll molecule at the elevated temperatures associated with high solar radiation. It may be better to engineer algae genetically, to generate charge. One has to factor in the costs of engineering these systems in terms of carbon footprinting. Cheap, sustainable systems will not be easily identified. It may be better to focus on what we have at our disposal already in terms of plant genetic resources.

    If seld building systems could be developed, that required less energy input to construct, then that may be the best way forward.

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