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Is it possible to stored energy from pollution


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#1 Sharp Zachary

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 03:23 AM

I'm looking for two things is it possible to store energy from pollution in plant cells. Also I am looking for people to help me design something that could help eliminate pollution all together.

 



#2 bob1

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 12:03 PM

How do you mean "store energy from pollution"? What sort of pollution? what sort of energy? Plant cells (at least the ones containing chloroplasts) can take CO2 and convert it into sugars and oxygen via input of energy (sunlight)

 

part2: not asking much... if it were that easy, don't you think someone would have come up with it already?



#3 Sharp Zachary

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 04:02 PM

How do you mean "store energy from pollution"? What sort of pollution? what sort of energy? Plant cells (at least the ones containing chloroplasts) can take CO2 and convert it into sugars and oxygen via input of energy (sunlight)

 

part2: not asking much... if it were that easy, don't you think someone would have come up with it already?

That is why I am asking. I'm not familiar with biology and go to school for design. I'm looking for people who are experts or familiar with the field of biology to help me answer these questions. I am speaking of air pollution. If I read correctly I saw a scientific article that spoke of plankton having the same capability for large bodies of water that could eliminate water pollution. The energy I speak of is mechanical energy that could possibly replace other energy factories.


Edited by Sharp Zachary, 13 November 2014 - 04:07 PM.


#4 bob1

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 05:38 PM

OK: regarding the energy storage, short answer, no. All things contain energy of some sort, mostly as a physical potential energy best known by Einstein's E=mc2  (energy = mass  x the square of the speed of light) equation. Living organisms also generate forms of energy via metabolism (part of this is how you generate heat- it is a waste byproduct of metabolism) and plants can convert the energy in sunlight into sugars and oxygen, but this isn't energy that is usable by us currently (other than burning the plant to generate heat and via that electrical power). Mechanical power from a physics perspective is something that can be used to move something, for example if you used a lever to shift something heavy, then you are generating and using mechanical power. Some plants, such as venus flytraps, can move parts of their bodies rapidly but they do this by pumping water out of cells making them less rigid. To get them back to the original rigid state is quite a slow process (I think) and the mechanical forces generated are weak, which isn't much use to us currently.  ON the other hand there are species of bacteria that can produce electrical currents all by themselves, these might be more useful in the future as batteries/fuel cells.

 

Regarding pollution, have a look around for information on bioremediation, which is where we use biological systems to clean up pollution, often things like heavy metal contamination from mines. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here, different organisms do things differently, so some will take up heavy metals well, but others won't.

 

The type of plankton you are referring to is called phytoplankton. These are tiny floating plant cells (types of algae mostly, but also cyanobacteria. Floating animals such as krill are called zooplankton), and these are particularly good at absorbing carbon dioxide (the major greenhouse gas people are worried about) from the atmosphere. However, the only reason they are good at this is that they can grow to high density (lots of cells per volume) and can expand to fit the given size of the area wanted - but they need the right conditions to do so, just like any plant in a garden, they need the right temperatures and right nutrients to grow well. There are currently efforts around to seed the sea with phytoplankton and the right mix of minerals etc to get them to grow.

 

However, as I mentioned above, this isn't a one-size-fits-all thing, there are other forms of air pollution, such as particulates (smog), other gases (methane, fluorocarbons, chlorine.... just about anything you can think of), acids (acid rain)... the list goes on, but plankton won't remove most of these from the atmosphere effectively. Some will naturally decrease when we stop producing them, but others won't. For instance, the fluorocarbons that used to be a propellent in many spray cans are particularly good at attacking ozone as they can break individual molecules down over and over again, without damaging themselves. This is what lead to the "Ozone hole" people were worried about in the late 1980s-2000ish (it's still there, but no longer newsworthy apparently). Production of fluorocarbons largely ceased in the 1980s, but the effect lingers on...



#5 hobglobin

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 09:27 AM

With algae there are also attempts to use them for different types of biological power plants producing hydrogen and/or biodiesel. Hydrogen could be used as energy source/storage itself as a flammable gas with direct use for engines or as raw material of the chemical industry, up to a whole proposed economical system based on it (see hydrogen economy). The idea is not very new (see again wikipedia) but still it seems to be in an early "developmental stage" and a large scale approaches are rare. I'm not sure if it will be really economically successful because of the low crude oil prices nowadays, so it might be more a future technique. See e.g. this or this


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