According to the journal “Proceeding Of The National Academy Of Sciences” published this month, February 2015, researchers at Harvard University have discovered a way to convert solar energy to liquid fuel, an elixir that has bedeviled many economists, politicians and power brokers around the world. It can even change the power equation of many “power cartels” such as OPEC, if it becomes feasible for mass production in the future.
At present, harnessing of solar energy is done by converting it into hydrogen using photovoltaic cells. The hydrogen is then stored in fuel cells for future use. But hydrogen has failed to make a headway as an energy source in a world that is infrastructurally set up to handle liquid fuels. Now, the researchers have made a breakthrough by using sunlight to split the hydrogen atom from water and then use a bacterium to combine it with carbon dioxide to form isopropanol, a hydrocarbon that is similar to fossil fuel, which is widely used around the planet.
This synthesis of hydrocarbon fuel can be a cheaper source of energy in the future when fossil fuel runs out due to over exploration. It can even drastically change the geo-political and economic power equation in years to come as well, in which re those having the technology would be able to leverage on the advantage that comes with this form of energy synthesis.
“This is a proof of concept that you can have a way of harvesting solar energy and storing it in the form of a liquid fuel,” said researcher Pamela Silver, according to Science Daily as reported in Time.