Video: Researchers "Mimmic Photosynthesis" to Solve the Energy Storage Problem

A team of scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are working on ways to store the sun's energy in fuel form, to be used anytime.

For our latest issue of the magazine, the Energy Issue, I spent a lot of time and, well, energy looking at innovations in energy storage and transmission. Solve these, we argued, and the overly abundant amounts of clean, renewable energy that shines down on our planet and blows across it every day can make the leap from marginal, intermittent power sources to steady, reliable base load energy sources.

On the storage front, there's a truly incredible variety of work underway. A couple months ago we looked at one MIT project to store the sun's energy as fuel, which is a particularly effective means of storing energy in a transportable fashion. (There's a good reason all of our cars have run on gasoline for all these decades.) Fuels (like hydrogen, the most common example) have a much higher energy density than batteries and other mechanical devices, so they could well turn out to be ideal for energy storage.

It turns out that MIT scientists aren't the only ones looking at the fuel storage solution. A team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis is working on a similar problem.

"We need more efficient ways of storage electricity," says Bruce Garrett, one of the project's leads. "And the most efficient way of storing energy is in chemical bonds." Like the MIT team, the PNNL scientists are looking at photosynthesis as a model. Here's a video of their efforts:


Basically, the team is working on finding the best catalysts to turn electricity into chemical bonds, and then convert the chemical bonds back to electricity. Right now, the catalysts that do the job are prohibitively expensive (which is why we're not yet all cruising around in hydrogen cars), but, according to the PNNL's website, "enzymes that participate in photosynthesis in Nature are more efficient and use inexpensive, abundant metals such as nickel and iron." The science behind it all—proton relays and electron transfers—is enough to make my head spin, but the scientists, thankfully, make the end goal clear as day.

"The ultimate goal," says Garrett, "is to get us off of fossil fuels."

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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