The Environmental Protection Agency never sleeps in its quest for environmentally friendly energy. So, it awarded $90,000 to students at Vanderbilt University to work on a project. The students think they can get net energy out of spinach.
The students know a good thing when it comes along. The good thing is $90,000.
The students designed a solar panel that substitutes a protein derived from spinach in place of silicon wafers. These wafers are energy-intensive to produce — a fact that rarely creeps into stories about solar power.
Electricity from spinach: now that’s a concept to please kids everywhere. “Mom, I don’t think I should eat any spinach. I want to do my part in reducing America’s dependence on imported energy.”
The team of four students also won the Marketplace Innovation Award from Paladin Capital.
Here is the inside dope. “A miniature bio-cell can produce minute electricity from Photosystem I (PSI), the protein in plant chloroplasts that converts light to electrochemical energy.”
The students won the grant, one professor said, despite “nagging doubts about how the slight power from the panel would convince the judges.”
Somehow, I think Vanderbilt students whose parents shell out $50,000 a year did not have doubts that nagged that much. The hope of splitting 90 grand has a calming effect on nagging doubts.