The sun is a useful star.  When it comes to powering our homes and creating the foundation for life on this planet, the sun can’t be beat.  Now, scientists are discovering another awesome little trick the sun can perform—simply throw a few million microbes into the mix and…presto, solar energy can be converted into chemicals. The process, called electrosynthesis, mimicks photosynthesis but, instead of changing sunlight into energy, the microbes feed on electrons and change sunlight into chemicals.
If you’re like me, it’s all pretty incomprehensible, but the point is this:  If chemicals can be made from electrosynthesis, we won’t have need for all the nasty petrochemcials that are poisoning everything from drinking water and farm produce to frogs and songbirds.  When chemical pesticides came into widespread use in the 1940s, the so-called “Green Revolution” was on.  Decades later, our planet’s life support systems are suffering the unintended consequences of “better living through chemistry.”  We’re now seeing the true “Green Revolution” gather steam with the birth of the green chemistry movement that strives to find less harmful alternatives to deadly petrochemicals.

It’s likely to be years until solar-powered chemicals are commercially available. In the meantime, minimize your petrochemical footprint by avoiding bottled water and other disposable plastic items, eating organic food, buying natural cleansers and cosmetics and using non-chemical pest control methods in your home and garden.  Your endocrine system, along with the planet, thank you in advance.

–Erica Etels0n

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.