Fermented products can range anywhere from beer to sourdough bread to soy sauce to ethanol fuels. In the microbial realm of fermentation, the process is fundamentally the same: Microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast metabolize sugars into alcohol. But often, the process can be plagued by a major drawback.
Every day, the Earth is bombarded by energy from a source more powerful than humanity could ever replicate: the sun. But this power is not so kind as to be easily harnessed. Even with the wealth of solar technology available and in development, problems persist. Sunlight is a fickle resource, unable to be collected at night or when the weather is cloudy. Because of this inconsistency in production, solar energy’s main sticking point is storage. If solar power can be stored efficiently when the sun is shining, it can be dispersed at any given time. Song Jin, a professor in the chemistry department at UW-Madison, is looking into this area.