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The new algae energy cell saves electricity and removes carbon dioxide from the air

The new algae energy cell saves electricity and removes carbon dioxide from the air

When generating electricity, the focus is primarily on technologies that do not produce any new carbon dioxide. But now researchers have also developed a process that saves electrical energy and even “consumes” carbon dioxide in the process.

Stress resulting from photosynthesis

Photosynthesis processes are used by algae. Like all plants, they use the energy provided by sunlight to produce the raw materials carbon dioxide and water needed to build more biomass. It turns out that this also creates potential for stress that can be exploited.

To do this, the researchers separated the algae into two separate chambers, with a proton-exchange membrane in between, like them report in their paper. If the sun falls on the rooms, the process of photosynthesis takes place and an imbalance in the electrical charge is created, which ultimately allows electricity to be dissipated.

Algae use carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and convert it first into sugar and then into various organic substances. When electricity is generated, greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere rather than constantly accumulating. The resulting excess biomass can later be put into the ground, for example, to bind carbon in the long term.

The effects are still small

So far, researchers have measured a maximum voltage of 1.0 volts for a single power cell. This is still relatively small, especially in order to create scalable systems that can also provide larger amounts of electricity.

However, scientists are convinced that with enough research and development, this system can be scaled up to generate electricity on a larger scale and significantly reduce carbon emissions. The basic research currently being conducted on this type of electricity generation is still far from practical systems.

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summary

  • Focus on technologies that do not produce new carbon dioxide
  • A process has been developed that saves electrical energy and consumes carbon dioxide
  • Photosynthesis processes in algae are used to generate electricity
  • Algae are divided into two compartments by a proton exchange membrane
  • Sunlight creates voltage potentials through the process of photosynthesis
  • Algae convert carbon dioxide into sugars and organic materials
  • Excess biomass can be used for long-term carbon sequestration
  • R&D can enable expansion and significant carbon reduction
  • Basic research is still far from practical systems

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