There is a lot of talk about alternatives to fossil fuels. We hear a lot about wind and solar energy and storing electricity in batteries for cars and even meeting the needs of larger building with batteries.
Direct solar energy to electricity through photovoltaic solar cells is gaining traction, but there are obvious issues with the uncertainty of direct sunlight. Certainly we have the option to store energy in batteries as Elon Musk is championing. But the production of batteries and their subsequent disposal can have negative effect on the environment and peoples’ health.
There are other options, such as storing the sun’s energy in fuels that can be used later. Below are two of many methods being explored to do this.
Turning Algae into biofuel provides a relatively carbon neutral fuels source. As the algae being used takes carbon out of the air as it grows, and then cycles it back into the air. Watch to the end of this video and you’ll see that they are considering ways to recapture the carbon directly from the power plants to use in growing the algae. Pretty cool ideas.
The other way is more in the idea stage. What if we can literally turn sunlight into an storable fuel source, as is done in photosynthesis. The concept is being explored and may be a viable option. However we proceed, exploring the alternatives of multiple paths will lead to several ways to meet our future energy needs.