Green Alternatives: Are they green?

In the race for green energy alternatives, plants have been winning so far. They’ve figured out how to convert sunlight into energy quite a long time ago (around 3000 million years ago to be exact). Fast-forward to today, and researchers at Harvard University have figured out a way to hijack this tried-and-true method to mass-produce hydrogen from artificial leaves, for subsequent usage in hydrogen fuel cell production. The problem is though, no one uses hydrogen fuel cells and so they have since had to change their game plan.

So what did they come up with? As Michael Casey of CBS reports, these scientists developed a method to convert the hydrogen produced by the artificial leaves into usable gasoline fuel, by feeding the hydrogen to a soil bacterium known as Ralstonia eutropha. However, their process is only able to convert around 1% of sunlight into gasoline. To make this economically viable, they would need to increase the efficiency to at least 10%.

But let’s stop and think for a second. Is more fuel what we really want? One of the reasons behind global warming in the first place is the increased burning of fossil fuels. So while their method sounds “green” because it involves the use of microorganisms, plants, and creative thinking, it actually does nothing to curb humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels. If anything it only enforces it! So, does this ultimately count as a green alternative? My vote is no.

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