Biosolar Breakthrough Promises Cheap, Easy Green Electricity

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posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 02:43 PM
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Reasearching about alternative energy I stumbled across this article today:

www.sciencedaily.com...


ScienceDaily (Feb. 2, 2012) — Barry D. Bruce, professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is turning the term "power plant" on its head. The biochemist and a team of researchers has developed a system that taps into photosynthetic processes to produce efficient and inexpensive energy.



To produce the energy, the scientists harnessed the power of a key component of photosynthesis known as photosystem-I (PSI) from blue-green algae. This complex was then bioengineered to specifically interact with a semi-conductor so that, when illuminated, the process of photosynthesis produced electricity


It's about reproducing processes that exist on Earth for millions of years to make energy, or better said to use solar energy. Frankly I wondered myself for some time now how come nobody didn't try to do it before, to use photosynthesis in energy extraction? Why should we reinvent something that nature has invented long ago?

But let me be clear: if you ask me if I expect anything to come out of this, my answer is decisively NO! As long as we live in this live in this kind of society. And what kind of society do we live in? We live in society where everything is based on power and control. Energy is very important part of that system (if not the most important) because if there is no control over energy and energy sources than there is no control of anything. No control - no power (over others of course). The main motive of the insatiable power hungry elites is to keep us submissive and dependent on them, so they could rule us,manipulate us and do whatever they want with us... The more dependent and desperate we are, happier they are. That's so simple...

So is there way out of this? Out of this dependency, out of this magic circle? I think there is. If this technology becomes simple enough that some of us can reproduce it at home and than explain the rest of us how to do it. I think we are approaching that point. But it is very important that people who are a little bit more technologically knowledgeable than the rest of us don't wait for some corporation or government to start mass producing these systems because it will never happen. Instead to try and figure it themselves (work with each other) how to do it and how to make it easy for the rest of us to do it. If somebody thinks that can make money out of something like this (trough patents and so on), he's gravely mistaken...




posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 03:13 PM
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I remember learning about photosynthesis in 8th grade! What an amazing discovery! But your right. That process is definitely going to be controlled just like every other endeavor in to EFFICIENT free energy. Maybe one day though when civilization on a whole is ready. I bought solar panels... but am saving them for when I REALLY need them...

Good thread! S+F for you!



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 03:17 PM
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reply to post by alomaha
 

I'm confident that there will be advances in solar technology. Efficiencies are so low there's plenty of room for improvement. Whether this is the next big thing or not I don't know, but I've seen other solar technologies that were claimed to be more promising.

What you seem to overlook is, if there's a buck to be made from making and selling solar cells, companies will make them...they are already, but they're just not very efficient. I think you're somewhat delusional if you think existing solar cell companies can't upgrade the technology they use in their solar cells, which they already make and sell.



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 03:51 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


I agree that there is lot of room for improvement of PV panels, so why don't they do it? What are they waiting for? How much has the technology changed from the time when Jimmy Carter was putting those panels on the roof of White House? I think very little if anything. I don't think that science is so slow, it must be something else...


edit on 20-9-2012 by alomaha because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 05:18 PM
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Originally posted by alomaha
reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


I agree that there is lot of room for improvement of PV panels, so why don't they do it? What are they waiting for? How much has the technology changed from the time when Jimmy Carter was putting those panels on the roof of White House? I think very little if anything. I don't think that science is so slow, it must be something else...


edit on 20-9-2012 by alomaha because: (no reason given)


Why dont they? Well because
a) 'they' are normally university solid state physicists, not some dark government organization hell bent on covering up technology. Yes solid state devices can be made 95 % efficient at detecting light, but they use power rather than make it...
b) doping silicon or making a PV efficient is not an easy fix, you cannot just say... OK lets make it better - and it shall be so
c) What ever gain in efficiency you can get needs to be stable and not degrade the properties of device or not pose any other issue. The chemicals used for doping silicon are often not the kinds of chemicals you really want to be escaping into the air or soil for example.
d) Though solid state technology has come a very very long way, quite often things require some form of random experimentation more than simple designing, back when RED LEDs where first made, science thought that the technology couldn't be changed to make the colour different. Oh then someone made a hetrogeneous crystal that had interesting bandgap properties that allowed green light production... Now... now we take it all for granted.



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 07:47 PM
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reply to post by ErosA433
 


Well, in fact there are a lot of advances in that sector but they are not implemented yet in mass production:

www.jyi.org...

Unfortunately here are stats from that same link:


Despite these advances in PV technology, there are relatively few examples of PV installations as a major form of energy production. This is likely a consequence of the high cost of PV technology compared to other energy sources. In the UK for example, solar power currently provides less than one hundredth of one percent of home energy needs. Overall, PV energy production represents an extremely small fraction of energy production worldwide. The total annual energy produced by PV installations in the world, 2,204 megawatts (10), represents approximately one-tenth of a percent of the total energy use of the United States, which had an annual energy consumption of 3.3 trillion watts in 2006.



posted on Sep, 20 2012 @ 08:05 PM
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reply to post by ErosA433
 

Thanks for beating me to a reply and that's a good answer to explain some of the challenges.


Originally posted by alomaha
How much has the technology changed from the time when Jimmy Carter was putting those panels on the roof of White House? I think very little if anything. I don't think that science is so slow, it must be something else...
This confirms my earlier suggestion that perhaps you have some delusions. Despite the fact there is still room for more improvement, there have been advances:

Solar Cell

In 1969, Berman joined the Linden, New Jersey Exxon lab, Solar Power Corporation (SPC).[8]

His first major effort was to canvass the potential market to see what possible uses for a new product were, and they quickly found that if the price per watt were reduced from then-current $100/watt to about $20/watt there would be significant demand. Knowing that his ribbon concept would take years to develop, the team started looking for ways to hit the $20 price point using existing materials.
A five-fold improvement in four years was great, but the lowest hanging fruit is always the easiest to get. But there have been improvements since 1973:


By using the largest wafers available, thereby reducing the amount of wiring for a given panel area, and packaging them into panels using their new methods, by 1973 SPC was producing panels at $10 per watt and selling them at $20 per watt, a fivefold decrease in prices in two years....

In the time since Berman's work, improvements have brought production costs down under $1 a watt, with wholesale costs well under $2. "Balance of system" costs are now more than the panels themselves. Large commercial arrays can be built at below $3.40 a watt,[12][13] fully commissioned.
So that's another ten-fold improvement since 1973.

In 2009 a different technology using cadmium telluride was introduced by First Solar, which briefly made them the largest solar manufacturer by one measure:

First Solar was briefly the largest panel manufacturer in 2009, in terms of yearly power produced, using a thin-film cell sandwiched between two layers of glass. Since then silicon panels reasserted their dominant position both in terms of lower prices and the rapid rise of Chinese manufacturing, resulting in the top producers being Chinese.
There were some supply and demand issues related to the materials used in the silicon technology so when those were sorted out, First Solar lost their dominance, but we know what the reason is, and it wasn't some mysterious suppression by vested interests.

And we have yet another technology this year:

A more modern process, mono-like-multi, aims to offer the performance of mono at the cost of poly, and is in the process of being introduced in 2012.
Regarding the tech in the OP article, that's still in the research phase and as far as I can tell from the article, not a useful technology yet, so that's why nobody is trying to commercialize it. From the OP story:


The mechanism is orders of magnitude more efficient than Bruce's earlier work for producing bio-electricity thanks to the interfacing of PS-I with the large surface provided by the nanostructured conductive zinc oxide; however it still needs to improve manifold to become useful.
Well if it's not useful yet, don't you think that's a logical reason to not use it?







edit on 20-9-2012 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 09:39 AM
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There have been some great advances, but the efficiency of photosynthesis is i think (please correct me if i am wrong) only on the order of 20% in plants, if not less...(I think i read it somewhere apologies). Yes plants do very very well using it, but they use photosynthesis to convert produce sugars, not electricity. So there are several hurdles required in order to take anything remotely biological and tailoring it for our needs.

To use a fully biological system we must harvest cells and then in some way, mount them in an array and keep them alive. And when I say keep them alive I mean, for 10-20 years. This must also be stable and not have the device / solar cell turn into some kind of triffid /blob in the process...

In all there are far more hurdles to cross to get any kind of bio system working better than what we have currently.



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 11:13 AM
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The thing that really makes me angry about renewable energy, is that there are locations which are ripe for being turned into solar farms (that is huge arrays of panels, or alternatively, massive arrays of mirrors which focus sunlight on a tower full of water, heating the water, which creates steam, which turns a turbine with predictable results I need not go into).

Australia for instance has massive tracts of un-inhabitable dust land, which would be PERFECT for this format of massive complex, and yet little, if anything, is being done by Australian government departments to ensure that this natural resource of square footage is not left un tapped.

Furthermore, the reason that solar does not take more of the market is because people are being priced out of the market due to thier cost. Solar panels would be a GREAT deal more widespread, if they didnt cost so damned much, and the expense IS a pure product of capitalism, and has nothing to do with the "expertise" used to build them (assembly is a task best suited to those who require no challenge or particular intellect, just some level of attention paid and an instruction pamphlet) and little to do with the material cost of the items, since they wiegh precisely bugger all, and are not comprised of unobtainium or anything remotely exotic. Installation also is a doddle, made over complicated by morons in the industry (trust me, even pro fitters will tell you over a pint that you could do this while in a vegetative coma).



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by TrueBrit
The thing that really makes me angry about renewable energy, is that there are locations which are ripe for being turned into solar farms (that is huge arrays of panels, or alternatively, massive arrays of mirrors which focus sunlight on a tower full of water, heating the water, which creates steam, which turns a turbine with predictable results I need not go into).

Australia for instance has massive tracts of un-inhabitable dust land, which would be PERFECT for this format of massive complex, and yet little, if anything, is being done by Australian government departments to ensure that this natural resource of square footage is not left un tapped.

Furthermore, the reason that solar does not take more of the market is because people are being priced out of the market due to thier cost. Solar panels would be a GREAT deal more widespread, if they didnt cost so damned much, and the expense IS a pure product of capitalism, and has nothing to do with the "expertise" used to build them (assembly is a task best suited to those who require no challenge or particular intellect, just some level of attention paid and an instruction pamphlet) and little to do with the material cost of the items, since they wiegh precisely bugger all, and are not comprised of unobtainium or anything remotely exotic. Installation also is a doddle, made over complicated by morons in the industry (trust me, even pro fitters will tell you over a pint that you could do this while in a vegetative coma).



Make your own

Im a tinkerer and we had tried several passive type of solar systems.. but making the actual panel has worked reasonably well. I had started with a hothouse for gardening using passive, then got a wild hair about making my own panel. Its really not that hard.
Recently learned that you can use cheap old copper oxide and throw away your silicon
Rather than physical doping, you use a low electrical current and voila... same doping effect. Look up : SFPV.. screening-engineered field-effect photovoltaics.

There is this religious guy out here who is trying to make the homeless self sufficient. Larry Rice. For all of his BS he really is doing good things and is very very into renewable and free energy. I got the wild hair to try to find a way that the homeless ( or wackos like me) can salvage materials and not buy the monocrystalline cells.. if I can perfect this for salvage.. Im giving the know how to the homeless folks. Theyre doing some amazing things in Mo at his renewable enrgy and self sufficiency farm. Bet this will flip his lid.



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 05:02 PM
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reply to post by TrueBrit
 


Issue is that PV as they are now love high levels of sunlight, however they dont love high levels of heat.
Also, yes making your own PVs are possible but once again, some of the things that work at small scale dont really scale up very well

Think about LCD screens for a moment. There was a time when typically LCDs for computers where 15inch 4:3, they got cheap and bigger with time. Back then, the cost of a nice 24 inch LCD screen was simply not in reach unless you wanted to spend half as much on the LCD as you did for the computer. The technology got easier to make and it got more reliable. PVs are somewhat similar, a bleeding edge PV as you said is just not cost effective *yet* sure it doesn't require more skill than pressing a button and watching a machine make it. But you fail to understand that that machine that makes it is quite often a retrofit and isnt great at doing what you are trying to get it to do. Which makes it not at all cost effective.

Again people talk like there is some kind of infinite money source and that businesses can afford to throw away multi-million dollar equipment every few years.

Using collector mirrors, you mean a solar furnace, I have always wondered about the efficiency of those, I suspect that the main issue is stopping the collector from melting and achieving efficient heat transfer to actually make the steam. Maintaining the mirrors would also be an issue since the are required to constantly move.



posted on Sep, 21 2012 @ 05:46 PM
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Solar electric panels and wind turbines will make expensive electricity.
More socialism for the rich.



By Evan Halper, Ralph Vartabedian and Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times

September 20, 2012, 5:08 p.m.

Driven by the Obama administration's vision of clean power and energy independence, the rush to build large-scale solar plants across the Southwest has created an investors' dream in the desert.

Taxpayers have poured tens of billions of dollars into solar projects — some of which will have all their construction and development costs financed by the government by the time they start producing power.

Banks, insurers and utility companies have jumped in, taking advantage of complex state and federal tax incentives to reap outsized returns. Among the solar prospectors in the Mojave are investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., General Electric, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and technology giant Google Inc.

The cost for decades to come will also be borne by ratepayers. Confidential agreements between solar developers and utilities lock in power prices two to four times the cost of conventional electricity. The power generated by the mega-plants will be among the most expensive renewable energy in the country.

That high-priced power will compose an increasing share of California's electricity following Gov. Jerry Brown's signing last year of legislation requiring that renewable sources provide 33% of the state's power by 2020.

Stanford University economist Frank Wolak, an expert in the California electricity market, said the state's renewable energy strategy could boost electricity rates 10% to 20%, depending on a number of factors. Potentially, consumers' bills could go up by 50%.xt
edit on 21-9-2012 by WakeUpNowSnap because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 14 2012 @ 08:30 PM
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We all need to get a small solar panel or a small wind turbine for our homes. It wont solve it all, but it will be a good start. Kick the energy companies right in there testes. Remember..."We the people" are real change. Who says we cant have free energy? Its just that someone FROM the PEOPLE needs to put aside the money and greed and do it already. I mean we "put" lol a man on the moon why cant they make a car run 300 mpgs?? wait im getting off topic here but you can catch my drift.

All I wanna know is whose coming with me?





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