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Author Topic: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?  (Read 4509 times)

Offline yuenjanson

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Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« on: 18/03/2013 13:16:13 »
As every one knows,photosynthesis is a way plants provide energy for theirselves(I refer plants as their...).So,can we extract some energy which is produced by the plant?Can anyone tell me if this will work or not.
(I am a Form 1,so don't be too harsh if i was wrong :D)


 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #1 on: 19/03/2013 16:43:16 »
Hello there!

Yes - plants extract energy from the sun via photosynthesis and use it to grow and live.  When ever we eat a vegetable we are using energy that a plant has got from photosynthesis.  The calories in things like starchy potatoes , like bread, and sweet sugary fruit come from photosynthesis.  Even when we eat meat we are getting energy from say beef or chicken or lamb - but the animals in turn got the energy from grass and grain - which originally got its energy from photosynthesis.  All the energy you will every use in your body will most likely (I cannot think of an exception) have come (maybe via long route) from the Sun via a plant and photosynthesis. 
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #2 on: 19/03/2013 17:37:58 »
When we burn wood in a fire, that energy originally came from photosynthesis which built the tree. It can be used to heat your house, cook food over a campfire, or drive a steam-train.

It's not so obvious, but scientists tell us that the chemical energy in coal, oil/petroleum and natural gas also originally came from photosynthesis in growing plants which have become fossilised in the ground. This energy can be used as a liquid fuel to power our cars and planes, or in electrical power stations to drive our trains, lights, computers (and increasingly common, our electric cars).

Most nations today extract a majority of their energy needs from these "fossil fuels", but there are experiments in producing liquid fuels from today's photosynthesis (biofuels). There are a few countries that get most of their power from nuclear sources, while renewable power sources like hydroelectricity, wind, tidal power are slowly becoming more common around the world.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #3 on: 19/03/2013 18:02:23 »
I do recall some scientists are trying to find ways of generating energy directly from a man-made form of photosynthesis.

I'll put on my memory cap, see if I can recall where I heard it.

Watch this space......
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #4 on: 19/03/2013 18:25:12 »
Plants, and say your average computer are quite different technologies.

So, the big thing would be to decide what you wish to build.

Plants, of course, are good at making chemicals. 

One might be able to isolate some of the organic processes, however making an artificial plant would get complicated very quickly as one would add DNA, DNA transcription, RNA, etc.  And, you might end up with something very similar to the simple plant cells one was trying to replace.

Some chemicals are made with a recombinant process.  For example, human based insulin is now generally made in bacteria, I think.  Presumably one could also produce the insulin using algae or cyanobacteria, although sunlight would be far more difficult to control than the current production systems.

There are some experiments of genetically modified algae or cyanobacteria for the production of either light alcohols, or oils for the use in fuel.

As far as electricity, it might be far more complex.  We do, of course, have semiconductor based solar cells.  However, for organic cells, they manipulate electricity with the movement of ions.  I could imagine building a photosynthesizing battery, or perhaps a neuron generator.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #5 on: 19/03/2013 21:04:18 »
Editorial: Was that a "neuron generator", or a "proton generator" (which can be used to produce electricity or drive chemical reactions)?
 

Offline Don_1

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #7 on: 22/03/2013 15:21:11 »
Editorial: Was that a "neuron generator", or a "proton generator" (which can be used to produce electricity or drive chemical reactions)?
Yes,
I meant Neurons (not neutrons), as a cell type in animals that is capable of generating electric current using ion channels and pumps (sodium and potassium).  Although, our bodies do in fact also have proton pumps in the stomach which are used for a different purpose.

Perhaps a better model than neurons would be the electrocytes from electric eels and electric rays.

These, of course, are in animals, not plants, but one might consider a similar process to convert chemical energy from photosynthesis to electrical energy.
« Last Edit: 22/03/2013 19:05:23 by CliffordK »
 

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Re: Can we extract energy from photosynthesis?
« Reply #7 on: 22/03/2013 15:21:11 »

 

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