What can generate clean energy, biomass for fertilizers, convert CO2 into oxygen and be used in space? Algae.
Chasing the potential of this incredible organism is the young Adán Ramírez Sánchez, 23-year-old Mexican biotech and winner of the 2019 MIT Latin American contest. Innovators under 35“Who made solar panels powered by algae instead of minerals mined from the ground.”
Your Smart Solar Biopanels, manufactured in your firm GreenFluidicsThey are a part of microalgae, a part of nanotechnology, and they absorb CO2 before turning it into electricity and oxygen, potentially solving two of the biggest problems of our time.
If you paid attention in biology class, you might notice a similarity between this and the evolutionary strategy of photosynthesis, the method by which plants generate energy from CO2 and sunlight.
However, the invention just keeps getting better, as the panels are fully biodegradable, as they are made from algae and abundant marine material, and they produce working biomass, which can be harvested and used as fertilizer.
At one meter wide, the green triangle panels are quirky and edgy, and can give an office a unique touch while purifying the indoor air.
#InnovativeMonday | Adán Ramírez has developed biological solar panels that produce energy and oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide and could help colonize Marshttps://t.co/JLYqscNk0a pic.twitter.com/6tZEt0wgTJ
– MIT Tech Review ES (@techreview_es) January 20, 2020
The consumption of fuel to generate electricity or propulsion is the largest source of emissions by a huge margin. For the sake of comparison, the US would have to multiply the number of horses, sheep, goats, and cows in the country by about 50 to come close to matching it through the enteric fermentation of the animals.
Ramírez defines GreenFluidics as the first technology company in Mexico to produce biotechnology for the exploration of outer space and said upon receiving his award from MIT that “we seek to connect outer space with planet Earth through the technology we have developed.”
He hopes they can be carried aboard spacecraft or inside colonies, as they can simply be placed in a window and generate electricity and oxygen for astronauts indoors using the sun. The biomass produced can be used to fertilize space crops, another biotechnology being developed by NASA and ESA.
Sometimes when you want to dream big and reach for the sky, the first step is to look down, in this case, perhaps towards a pond.
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