Using chlorophyll

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Rolland B. Heiss, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    While out on a smoke break during work I was gazing at the dormant trees and thinking that they look like oddly shaped antennas and wondering if I could use their design for something useful somehow. In the midst of that thought process, and several other thoughts that came to mind, I harkened back to last summer when the leaves were abundant and doing their photosynthesis thing. So chlorophyll entered my mind next. When I came home from work I cracked a beer and thought about it some. Finally I went outside and found a lump of grass and pulled a bit of it, cut it up with scissors and poured a cap of ethyl alcohol the old lady had in the form of Vodka over the grass and let it sit for about 12 minutes. Then I soaked a square of paper towel in the juice (after taping a piece of copper wire to one side of the square and rolling up a piece of aluminum foil and taping that to the other side). I'm trying to make solar cells. The result seemed to be a quite useless battery. However, when I hid the thing from the light in the room the voltage dropped a few points to around 0.28 and when more light hit it the voltage rose to around 0.32 with a bit of fluctuation. Disappointingly, when I held it straight up to the light there was no voltage rise above 0.32 or so. At any rate, has anyone else here experimented with chlorophyll and if so, what have you discovered as it relates to electricity generation? Mind you, I did this fairly quickly and didn't filter out any impurities or use any other chemicals apart from the ethyl alcohol. Any thoughts and input would be most appreciated.
     
  2. Brevor

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    Rolland, what were you smoking?
     
  3. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    There was vodka in the room as well.
     
  4. Denesius

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    Guys- don't make fun of Rolland, he may be onto something here. If I remember right, chlorophyll, in a 2-step process, produces free electrons and fuels a reduction reaction. Of course there are all sorts of intermediates, and electron carriers and magnesium catalysts and substrates and.........
    Rolland, what WERE you smoking?
     
  5. wayneh

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    Getting a pigment to convert light energy into an energetic electron is relatively easy. What's hard is to recapture the energy in that electron and convert it to anything else. There has been and continues to be a huge amount of research into this.

    Photosynthesis is a multistep process employing a string of specialized enzymes and other electron transport proteins. It allows the electron to fall downhill energy-wise slowly, giving up bits of energy along the way. The cell then puts that chemical energy to good use, most notably for fixing (reducing) carbon dioxide to make sugars.

    I'm not aware of any successful intervention whereby a human can short-circuit all those steps and capture the energy as electricity instead. We use plants for what they have evolved to do best.

    If you want to play with capturing light energy, look into the work using titanium dioxide to catalyze direct hydrolysis to hydrogen in the presence of sunlight.
     
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  6. takao21203

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    Apr 28, 2012
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    Its not that easy as dissolving something in vodka and sink a piece of tinfoil into it.

    There was another troll science solar cell thread recently- hope the idea doesnt get warmed up all over again and again.
     
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  7. ian field

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    Oct 27, 2012
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    I was going to ask that!
     
  8. cmartinez

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    If you want to learn about chemistry through alchemy... fine... but it's going to take you several hundred lifetimes before you start getting somewhere. Artificial photosynthesis is an extremely complex subject, parts of which remain unknown, and it's considered a holy grail in the solar power generation field, since it would not only allow to more efficiently extract energy from sunlight, but also it would permit us to store it in a more convenient manner. If you'd like to know the latest developments on this field, check this thread that I started a few days ago.
     
  9. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    I appreciate all of the input despite the fact that much of it was focused upon "what I was smoking" and I am human with a sense of humor so I enjoyed the comments anyway despite the fact that most of them were not helpful at all when I posed a serious question... at least serious to me. takao21203 should be rewarded by me for being the one who did his or her best to make me feel like a total idiot. It didn't succeed but it did hurt in an emotional sense to be called a troll none the less because again, I'm only human and am honestly trying to figure things out in this world in order to find a way to better it as opposed to burning someone to death in a cage like what I saw several days back. I felt that comment was entirely uncalled for. I believe it was Da Vinci that said you should never neglect to gaze at the patterns in wood or the other shapes in nature because in doing so you could perhaps unravel the secrets of the universe. I'm just a simple man far removed from one such as Da Vinci but my curiosity abounds as I'm sure yours does.... or ought to. Perhaps I need to quote Shakespeare now:

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    - Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

    At least I still dream, as opposed to using my time to ridicule and deride. I feel sorry in a way for those who do such things and forget the original dreams we all had as children, despite what the textbooks claim are absolutes. Remember, the world is flat. Right?
     
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  10. tcmtech

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    Personally I am rather curious as to the whole process now.

    From what I am gathering either you made what could be loosely termed a photosensitive battery or a organic photo cell.

    Personally if I was you I would try reading up on organic chemistry a bit and trying out a few other metals and solvents for your chlorophyll electrolytic solution you have.
    Who knows you might actually find something that does get a few of these old arm chair scientists something to ponder on other than whats in your liquor cabinet or hidden in your sock drawer they don't have access to. :D
     
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  11. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Actually it wasn't my liquor cabinet (because I don't drink hard liquor anymore) but rather a bottle my girlfriend had around. Three drinks after a hard day at work in the form of beer relaxes me some and that's about all I partake of anymore. But I really appreciated you comment tcmtech. People like you keep me pressing forward. Thanks.
     
  12. takao21203

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    Apr 28, 2012
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    The line between genius and insane is a thin one.

    I didnt call you one, but if you google troll science, there are many illustrations with ideas.

    Well it doesnt work, you could spend the rest of your life on it if you believe in it, and end up poor, like a lot of researchers. A few were lucky.

    There is also academic research, first study the facts, and run series of controlled experiments.

    The free energy videos on google arent academic, and I dont feel good if more and more such ideas begin to circulate.

    When you cant stand criticism, you arent a scientist- constantly they must give a proof.

    Actually with all the alcohol, your chlorophyll is pretty much rendered inactive = dismissed.
    Ignoring a hard fact and fighting it, could be anything but its not science.

    Its nothing against you just when a scientist comes up with a new thing, I doubt it, especially if theres no proof, and fact speak against it even maybe could be working.

    Even if it is brilliant and works- myriads of marketing guys will have suitcases of arguments against it.
     
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  13. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    The first thing I would have been tempted to do was to repeat the experiment except without the grass clippings. If you get similar results, you know the chlorophyll had nothing to do with it. If you get no results, you know that something in the grass clippings did (may or may not have been the chlorophyll and whatever it was may or may not every be able to do anything useful). If it's the grass clippings, then the next step might be to try non-green plant matter (root, bark, or wood material) and see what response they have. Then try some other things like white and colored paper, the felt from a dry erase marker, pen ink, various foods, etc. What you are trying to look for is whether results such as what you saw are common or rare.
     
  14. cmartinez

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    Rolland, I'm glad you have a sense of humor... unfortunately some people here will "rib" you before actually getting to know you better. My answer at least was a serious one and I never intended to make fun of anything you said... Wanna know what I think about the way you're researching things? Just look at my signature below.... take care.
     
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  15. jpanhalt

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    I agree with WBahn and others that your uncontrolled experiment is relatively meaningless, unless you follow up on it. You need to describe it in sufficient detail that others can duplicate it. You need to show the effect is reproducible and identify the variables. For starters, which electrode was positive? (I will assume it was the copper for the following.)

    I do not find your results surprising. Aluminum-copper batteries are known and seem to be a popular demonstration or party trick: http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/echem/batteries/batteries.html
    The question remains how to explain your observation of a slight voltage increase. Some possible explanations for that are:

    1) As you moved it you changed the geometry to affect the internal resistance and/or areas exposed;
    2) Light was absorbed by the green solution and warmed it slightly; and
    3) You observed a very slight photoelectric effect on the aluminum (negative) pole: http://www.physics.utah.edu/spectrum/index.php/demolicious-physics/76-simple-photoelectric-effect.

    I hope you will describe your follow-up studies here.

    John
     
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  16. cmartinez

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    You may find this article interesting, it's about turning sunlight into fuel.
     
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  17. jpanhalt

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    Thanks. That is an interesting article. My other major area of interest is microbiology. The work is very early in development, but Mayfield's points are well taken. Finding a microorganism that can do something is not all that difficult. Getting it right, as with PCR, takes ingenuity and lots of work.

    John
     
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  18. wayneh

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    I spent a career working in plant physiology and microbiology, following training in biochemistry and chemical engineering. These sort of ideas have been coming and going as long as I can recall. In fact my final exam in biochemistry included a question asking us to design a solar powered, biochemical battery. (Truly a butt clenching moment when you read that one!)

    It's just my opinion, but I agree with the comments of the skeptics in that article. So many of these "gee whiz" ideas would quickly evaporate if you just do the basic calculations of the mass, energy and carbon balances. One back-of-the-napkin analysis, and poof, there goes another one.

    The closest I've seen anyone get so far are the algae projects that use concentrated solar for energy and the carbon dioxide byproduct from an ethanol fermentation plant.
     
  19. cmartinez

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    I stopped believing in solar power (and even less in wind power) when it downed on me that the maximum output you could get from any solar cell or device can never be greater than 1050 watts per square meter. My personal opinion on this matter, is that the future of energy generation on earth is either nuclear fusion (which is still 30 years away... ;)) traveling wave reactors, thorium reactors or (finally) solar power generated ex-terra, that is, by placing solar panels in orbit around the earth and then beaming down the power generated through microwaves or some other technology. I really think that the future is nuclear... but unfortunately there's just too much politics involved.
     
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  20. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Great share cmartinez!!! Thanks!!! :D
     
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