Inching towards mediocrity.


Plugging Into Plants. (Now with 87% more algae!)

In a move that’s no doubt being hailed by experts for it’s “what the hell, why not” attitude, scientists have turned to algae cells to produce electricity.

That’s correct. Algae cells.

Yep. ALGAE.

Now, anyone who attended at least a few high school science classes (or has watched enough episodes of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”) is at least somewhat familiar with the act of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, for those of you who are not familiar with it, and are to lazy to look it up on Wikipedia (which, by the way is totally what I did) is the process of converting light energy into chemical energy. For those of you who still aren’t sure what that means, here’s a diagram that will probably just confuse you more:

Yeah, I don't know how it works, either. But it LOOKS scientific.

Anyways, some research guys at Stanford have decided to harness the power of mother nature for their own sinister purposes. (Note: purposes may not actually be sinister). By intercepting the electrons produced by photosynthesis, they have created tiny electrical currents – that presumably can create a source of energy, minus that nasty carbon dioxide.

Not this time, Carbon Dioxide!

While this may well be “potentially one of the cleanest energy sources for energy generation” (according to the leader of this project, WonHyoung Ryu), it is still not known how economically feasible it is. Ryu explains that they were only able to extract one picoampere from each cell – a quantity so amll, that it would require one trillion cells photosynthesizing for one hour to charge a single double A battery.

That’s a lot of damn algae.

And, considering the fact that the cells die after about an hour, it doesn’t seem like the surefire solution we all would want it to be.

Regardless, it adds up to a lot of hurdles that these engineers will have to overcome if they want to make this power source work economically.

It always comes down to this.

Still, even with the difficulties their facing, it’s nice to see experts think outside the box when it comes to clean, renewable energy. The process may seem complicated, and definitely needs some tweaking (or bigger plants) to work, but at least the effort is there.

I applaud these scientists for their diverse abilities, and hope that one day I can power my house with a hibiscus, or something.

Sweet, sweet energy.


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