Trees: nature's electroylsers

September 11, 2023
Reading time: 3 min
We can learn a lot from nature. Aside from being beautiful, nature is full of hidden processes that help it, and us, grow and flourish.
Take trees for example, a vital part of our natural ecosystem. They give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil and give life to the world's wildlife, they also provide us with materials for tools and shelter.
They do most of this through the process of photosynthesis.
At TES we mimic the process of a tree to produce electric Natural Gas, also known as e-NG, using electrolysis.
Let's compare both processes.

A tree’s process of making glucose

Trees do this through the process of photosynthesis, to produce this energy-rich, carbon-based molecule from CO2 and water by capturing the energy of sunlight.
They take in water from the air and through their roots. Whilst their leaves capture sunlight via chlorophyll, driving a process called photolysis, during which the water is split into oxygen and hydrogen.
In consecutive steps called a dark reaction or Calvin cycle, the hydrogen and CO2 from the air are converted into glucose, an energy-rich, organic molecule that is acentral energy carrierin the living world and the building block for the plant’s growth and metabolism.

Trees process in TES

At TES, we replicate the tree’s process and just like the tree, we capture the energy of sunlight - the only difference is that we don’t use chlorophyll but solar panels.
The generated electricity is then used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in a process called electrolysis, using what we call Electrolysers, the apparatus that splits the two molecules.
Some of the solar power is also used to capture CO2 from the air through DAC (direct air capture). Subsequently, both the hydrogen and the captured CO2 go through a process called the Sabatier reaction, which yields our energy-rich, carbon-based product – e-NG.
e-NG is a sustainable alternative to natural gas and thus one of the main energy carriers of our economy, which can be used for the likes of industrial processes, shipping and power generation.

So both a Tree and TES:

  • Use sunlight to power processes to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.
  • Combine hydrogen and CO2 captured from the air and create energy-rich, carbon-based products.
These carbon-based products constitute one of the most important energy carriers in nature and for our economy, respectively.

Why this is important for decarbonizing the planet

One of the advantages of replicating the process of a tree is that it, like a tree, takes in CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps to decarbonize the planet thanks to the establishment of a carbon-neutral circular CO2 closed loop.
The molecule-based solution is an essential part of winning the climate crisis, as it can be implemented all over the world.
Unlike trees that take years to grow and cannot withstand harsh areas such as deserts, the TES process can be deployed in 2-3 years everywhere in the world where renewable power is available in abundance. And the benefit of a molecule that can replace natural gas is that we can transport and store it using existing infrastructures, making it a viable and scalable solution.