Video: Researchers "Mimmic Photosynthesis" to Solve the Energy Storage Problem Video: Researchers "Mimmic Photosynthesis" to Solve the Energy Storage Problem
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Video: Researchers "Mimmic Photosynthesis" to Solve the Energy Storage Problem

by Ben Jervey

January 22, 2011

For our latest issue of the magazine, the Energy Issue, I spent a lot of time and, well, energy looking at innovations in energy storage and transmission. Solve these, we argued, and the overly abundant amounts of clean, renewable energy that shines down on our planet and blows across it every day can make the leap from marginal, intermittent power sources to steady, reliable base load energy sources.

Basically, the team is working on finding the best catalysts to turn electricity into chemical bonds, and then convert the chemical bonds back to electricity. Right now, the catalysts that do the job are prohibitively expensive (which is why we're not yet all cruising around in hydrogen cars), but, according to the PNNL's website, "enzymes that participate in photosynthesis in Nature are more efficient and use inexpensive, abundant metals such as nickel and iron." The science behind it all—proton relays and electron transfers—is enough to make my head spin, but the scientists, thankfully, make the end goal clear as day.

"The ultimate goal," says Garrett, "is to get us off of fossil fuels."

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Video: Researchers "Mimmic Photosynthesis" to Solve the Energy Storage Problem