When you think of jellyfish, what comes to mind? Renewable energy? Probably not, but researchers have discovered a way to get solar power from jellyfish.
Jellyfish are some of the Earth’s most ancient organisms – even older than sharks. Floating through the oceans without any internal organs, the creatures can reach sizes of more than 7 feet in diameter, with tentacles extending 120 feet into the depths below. What use could these gelatinous bodies have for us?
Glad you asked!
A group of scientists from Sweden have discovered that jellyfish create a substance that can be used to increase the efficiency of solar cells. More efficient solar cells mean a lower cost for solar panels, which could bring the renewable resource to more people worldwide.
The bodies of jellyfish include a bioluminescent protein that includes a key ingredient, green fluorescent protein (GFP) which has the amazing ability to generate power. In fact, a single drop of GFP placed on aluminum electrodes and then exposed to ultraviolet light (sunlight is comprised of UV rays) can produce measurable electrical current.
According to a related article:
Called biophotovoltaic nanodevices by their creator, these light-powered cells could replace Grätzel cells, which duplicate plant photosynthesis via chemicals like titanium dioxide, iodine and sensitizer dyes to produce a photoelectrochemical form of energy.
Like algae, GFP can be a useful, natural substance to help boost the conversion rate of solar cells. Lest you worry about the harvesting of innocent jellyfish, researchers are developing artificial GFP in the laboratory.
No jellyfish were harmed in the writing of this article!