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."

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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