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Plants May Be Our Next Source of Alternative Energy, Still Good at Making Oxygen And Crap

If your computer isn't powered by a Ficus, I don't want to know you.

photosynthesis

We all know that the future of the human race depends on discovering alternate forms of power to satiate our foolish human appetite for energy. Luckily, scientists think they may have found the ‘greenest’ way yet to postpone our inevitable move to the moon colony.

Imagine if you could power your TV, night lights, and/or vibrating bed with the energy from a simple houseplant. According to a recent study in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, a research team from The University of Georgia has discovered that extracting energy from plants mid-photosynthesis may be a more efficient method of harnessing the sun’s energy for our stupid mankind needs than using solar panels. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve covered this study before. But we’re bringing it up again, because it’s totally rad.

By interrupting photosynthesis and transferring the plant’s electrons to a wire before they could be converted into glucose, researchers discovered that  plants were able to generate twice the power created by comparably sized solar cells.  Not surprising, considering that after being around for 450 million years,  plants are almost 100 percent quantum efficient–for every photon a plant processes from the sun, a new electron is produced. By contrast, solar panels operate at a mere 12 to 17 percent solar efficiency. In other words, this discovery could be a real game-changer for enterprising Colorado businessmen.

Obviously, harnessing photosynthesis as a form of clean energy is a relatively new idea, but let’s not forget that most new power sources seem like unlikely solutions at first. Wide use of plant power could drastically change how we look at development and nature (and maybe mean an uptick in movies like this one.) Now we just need someone to water them while we go out of town. Volunteers?

(via I Fucking Love Science, image via Duncan Rawlinson)

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