The cost of energy production from the so-calledrenewable sources, such as wind and sunlight, are slowly but surely decreasing every year. However, one of the drawbacks of such production still remains unresolved - what to do with the excess energy produced, how to store it? For example, in windy weather, windmills produce enough energy to power the power grid. But if the wind stops, there is no energy. Various companies around the world are trying to solve this problem. For example, Tesla is developing an energy efficient battery. But on a general scale, it's a drop in the ocean. In addition, it is very expensive.
Scientists from Stanford University decidedapproach the issue from a scientific point of view. A group of researchers is developing a bio-alternative to batteries capable of using excess energy and converting it into another energy source, which is much easier to store.
In general terms, we are not talking about batteries. The idea of scientists is to use special microbes that will convert excess renewable energy into methane, which can later be used in industries that still require combustible fuels.
In habitat, bacteria Methanococcusmaripaludis feed on hydrogen and carbon dioxide, releasing methane. Scientists suggest using excess energy in the reaction of splitting water and producing hydrogen atoms. Then hydrogen atoms are proposed to be fed to bacteria, which in turn, consuming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, will produce methane. The latter is not soluble in water. Thus it can be stored for a long time.
At times of peak demand or whenrenewable energy is not produced; methane can be used as a fuel source. Of course, when methane is burned, carbon dioxide is produced as a by-product, which can be regarded as a departure from the “green” mode of energy production. However, methane itself will be produced from the same carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere. Thus, we are talking about the cyclical nature of the reaction, the final result of which does not increase the volume of gas content in the atmosphere.
The advantage of this processing technologyin front of batteries for storing electricity, for example, the same Tesla Powerpack, is that methane can be used to produce electricity using the already existing infrastructure.
The development of technology continues, butStanford experts are confident that when scaling it will be able to offer a cost-effective approach to fuel production, while not increasing the overall level of gas pollution in the atmosphere. This project has already managed to interest the US Department of Energy. The Office allocated funding for its needs. Technical assistance in the development of a more efficient scheme for the processing of energy into methane is provided by the Livermore National Laboratory, as well as the company Southern California Gas. It is not yet clear whether this will really solve the main disadvantage of the production of renewable energy - storage - but the approach presented is considered quite original.
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