Biotech Updates

Green Energy from Pea

March 5, 2010

Researchers at the Tel Aviv University in Israel are looking at pea as a new source of green energy. Isolating the minute crystals of the Photosystem I super complex from the pea plant, Nathan Nelson suggests these crystals can be illuminated and used as small battery chargers or form the core of more efficient man-made solar cells. Solar energy systems work moderately well in hot desert climates, but they are still inefficient and contribute only a small percentage of the general energy demand.

Once light is absorbed in plant leaves, it energizes an electron which is subsequently used to support a biochemical reaction, like sugar production. This light to chemical energy conversion is facilitated by the membrane-situated Photosystem I which Nelson says can serve as electronic components in a variety of different devices.

"If we could come even close to how plants are manufacturing their sugar energy, we'd have a breakthrough," says Nelson. "One can imagine our amazement and joy when, upon illumination of those crystals placed on gold covered plates, we were able to generate a voltage of 10 volts. This won't solve our world's energy problem, but this could be assembled in power switches for low-power solar needs, for example," he concludes.

The original story is available at