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Future army could run on alternative fuels, photosynthesis

d plants to the particular wavelengths of sunlight, and because of this, plants convert 98 percent of the sunlight they receive into energy.

Conversely, current solar energy systems are only 10 percent to 15 percent efficient.

Using plants to produce electricity is an area of research known as biological photovoltaics. The NRC report suggests that coupling the light-harvesting capabilities of plants with protein-based devices could lead to solar energy systems capable of converting solar energy at 40 percent to 50 percent efficiency.

The report's authors also envision protein-based photovoltaic coatings on the Kelvar military helmets that could produce enough energy for the soldier's electronics. Other equipment and vehicles could also be covered with these protein-based solar converters.

A side benefit of such technology, the report notes, is that the protein coatings would make whatever they coat more difficult to detect by electronic means since they would mimic the natural environment.


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Contact: Steve Tally
tally@aes.purdue.edu
765-494-9809
Purdue University
19-Jun-2001


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