Biodegradable Algae Solar Panels Clean The Air While Growing Green Energy

Adán Ramirez Sánchez / GreenFluidics

What can generate clean energy, convert biomass for fertilizers, CO2 into oxygen and be used in space? Seaweed.

Young Adán Ramirez Sánchez, 23-year-old Mexican biotechnician and MIT 2019 winner of Latin American Innovators Under 35, has pursued the potential of this incredible organism and has made solar panels that run on algae instead of minerals extracted from the earth.

His intelligent solar biopanels, which are manufactured by his company GreenFluidics, consist of one part microalgae and one part nanotechnology. They absorb CO2 before converting it to electricity and oxygen, potentially solving two of the greatest problems of our time.

If you paid attention in biology class, you may notice a similarity between this and the evolutionary strategy of photosynthesis, the way plants generate energy from CO2 and sunlight.

The invention just keeps getting better because the panels are fully biodegradable – as they are made from algae and abundant marine material – and produce biomass during operation that can be collected and used as fertilizer.

At one meter in diameter, the green triangular panels are quirky and avant-garde and can add a unique touch to an office while purifying the air inside.

#Innovative Monday | Adán Ramírez has developed biological solar panels that produce energy and oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide. You could help colonize Mars. Https://t.co/JLYqscNk0a pic.twitter.com/6tZEt0wgTJ

– MIT Tech Review ES (@techreview_es) January 20, 2020

The consumption of fuel to generate electricity or thrust is by far the largest source of emissions. For comparison, the US would have to multiply the number of horses, sheep, goats and cows in the country by about 50 to nearly match it through the enteric fermentation of the animals.

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Ramirez defines GreenFluidics as Mexico’s first technology company to manufacture biotechnology for space exploration. After receiving his award from MIT: “We want to connect space with the planet earth using the technology we have developed.”

He hopes they can be brought aboard spaceships or in colonies, as they can simply be attached to a window and use the sun to generate electricity and oxygen for the astronauts inside. The biomass produced can be used to fertilize space cultures – another biotechnology being developed by NASA and ESA.

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Sometimes when you dream big and want to reach for the sky, the first step is, in this case, maybe looking down into a pond.

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