Bio-tech, nano-tech, and solar

Discussion in 'Energy' started by Old Rocks, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Can Algae Increase Solar Cell Efficiency? | Solar Power - PV Panels

    Researchers at Oregon State University and Portland State University have discovered a way to use algae to increase solar cell efficiency. Using microscopic algae called diatoms, dye-sensitized solar cells can produce triple the electrical output of ordinary solar cells.

    When specially-engineered diatoms are used in the production of thin film solar cells, light is captured inside the nano-scale pores of the cells. As a result, incident photons are trapped: electricity generation and efficiency are thus increased.

    OSU professor Greg Rorrer stated:

    “In our system, photons bounce around inside pores formed from diatom shells making them three times more efficient.”
     
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  2. Mr. H.
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    Mr. H. Diamond Member

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    Fascinating. I wonder what is meant by "specially-engineered diatoms". The article didin't expound on that.
     
  3. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    In the National Geographic article, they stated that the diatoms were biologically engineered to include certain rare earth elements in the construction of their shells. Seems to be an ongoing fascination because of the variety of the microtubal forms within the shells

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20070039073_2007037049.pdf

    ABSTRACT
    The worldwide effort to grow nanotechnology, rather than use lithography, focuses on diatoms, single cell eukaryotic algae with ornate silica shells, which can be replaced by oxides and ceramics, or reduced to elemental silicon, to create complex nanostructures with compositions Of industrial and electronics importance. Diatoms produce an enormous variety of structures, some of which are microtubule dependent and perhaps sensitive to microgravity. The NASA Single Loop for Cell Culture (SLCC) for culturing and observing microorganisms permits inexpensive, low labor inspace
    experiments. We propose to send up to the International Space Station diatom cultures of the three diatom species whose genomes are being sequenced, plus the giant diatoms of Antarctica (up to 2 mm diameter for a single cell) and the unique colonial diatom, Bacillaria paradoxa. Bacillaria cells move against each other in partial synchrony, like a sliding deck of cards, by a microfluidics mechanism. Will normal diatoms have aberrant pattern and shape or motility compared to ground controls? The generation time is typically one day, so that many generations may be examined from one flight. Rapid, directed evolution may be possible running the SLCC as a compustat. The shell shapes and
    patterns are preserved in hard silica, so that the progress of normal and aberrant morphogenesis may be followed by drying samples on a moving filter paper "diatom tape recorder". With a biodiversi .ty of 100,000 distinct species, diatom nanotechnology may offer a compact and portable nanotechnology toolkit for exploration anywhere.
     
  4. Mr. H.
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    Thanks for that. Kind of hard for me to follow. I googled images and yeah there's all sorts of shapes. So is the above article alluding to the advantage of certain shaped diatoms over others?
     
  5. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Like WOW! Seems that these little plant (?) have a real future.

    From Solar Panel To Bio-panel, Going Green With Algae. | Energy | The Earth Times

    In India, scientists are experimenting with the creation of biofuel from genetically engineered diatoms, a type of single-celled algae. This microscopic organism is often visible as the green coating on rocks in rivers and lakes. Diatoms are also found in our oceans in the form of phytoplankton.

    What is most significant about diatoms is that every cell contains oil droplets, manufactured by the organism as an emergency food source. This oil can make up as much as a quarter of each cell and analysis has shown that the oil makes a very good biofuel. What's more, while the diatoms produce oil, they absorb carbon dioxide, making the whole process an environmental no-brainer.

    T.V. Ramachandra is a professor of ecological sciences at the Indian Institute of Sciences and believes that the potential for diatom biofuel is massive.

    ‘Diatom cultivation could produce from 10 to 200 times as much oil as that produced by soybean cultivation.’

    It’s an impressive statistic but one that has been confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program. But what makes Professor Ramachandra's research even more intriguing is his proposal to develop a biological solar panel containing diatoms instead of photovoltaic cells. The theory is the cells would float in nutrient rich water and produce oil on exposure to sunlight.

    The obstacle at the moment, says Ramachandra, is convincing the diatoms to release their oil by exocytosis, the method by which they already release silica. However, he believes this is achievable by genetic modification.

    If he's successful, then a solar bio-panel for the production of oil could be a reality within a couple of years.
     
  6. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    With about 100,000 known species with all differant shapes and sizes, the diatoms seem to have something for everybody.
     
  7. Mr. H.
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    I suppose waterboarding is out of the question.

    :)
     
  8. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Some great pictures and diagrams here.

    Greg Rorrer | <none> | Oregon State University

    Research Areas

    Current research in the Rorrer Laboratory focuses on two areas: algal biotechnology, and biomass conversion. In the algal biotechnology area, we are harnessing the unique biosynthetic capacities of photosynthetic marine algae in engineered bioreactor platforms for applications in pharmaceutical production, nanotechnology, bioremediation of toxic compounds, and biofuels production. Two current projects are highlighted below.

    Algal biotechnology for nanostructured semiconductor materials. Single-celled, biomineralizing algae called &#8220;diatoms&#8221; consume soluble silicon to make microscopic silica shells which are ornately patterned in the nanoscale (1-100 nm range). By controlled feeding of alternative substrates such as soluble germanium or titanium to the living diatom cells, we metabolically inserted semiconductor nanophases into the periodic structures of the diatom biosilica. This process imparted optoelectronic properties to diatom microshell.
     
  9. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    For the aquisition of cheap diesel? Not at all:lol:
     
  10. Mr. H.
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    Rorrer. I thought that sounded familiar. I ate a lot of their quaaludes back in college.
     

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