Clean Solar Cells from Agriculture Wastes

It’s  big news for everybody that solar cells can be created from agriculture wastes such as cut grass and dead leaves, which have been proved by Andreas Mershin, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He added that it will be possible to mix some grass clippings into a bag of cheap chemicals, and utilise the mixture to paint your roof, which will produce electricity.

Recalling high school biology classes, he said that you must remember a process know as photosynthesis, where plants use to turn sunlight into energy. Mershin has discovered a process that extracts the photosynthesizing molecules, called Photosystem I, from plant matter. Photosystem I  contains chlorophyll that is the protein responsible for converting photons to a flow of electrons.

The plant’s molecules are spread on a glass substrate that is covered in a forest of zinc oxide nanowires and titanium dioxide “sponges”, after striking by sunlight the panels both the titanium dioxide and the new material absorb light and turn it into electricity, and the nanowires carry the electricity away.

Basic difference between the conventional photovoltaic cells and these green photovoltaic cells are that the layer of silicon has been replaced by suspension of photosynthesizing molecules, which appear like an electric nanoforest.

The electricity produced by such a process has a very low efficiency of 0.1%, which has the capacity to light a single LED light. In order to illuminate the entire house, the efficiency of 1 or 2% is needed. Mershin said that the team will concentrate on increasing the efficiency of such cells.

Such a useful invention will pave a new way for power generation, especially in low-density areas that are off the grid and developing nations.

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