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The Power of Photosynthesis

The Carbon Cycle

Most of the energy we use is a result of photosynthesis; the process plants use to make food. During photosynthesis, plants use chlorophyll, a green pigment, to capture light energy from the Sun. The energy helps plants change water and carbon dioxide into glucose. Plants use glucose, a simple sugar, as food, or they convert the sugar to a starch and store it for later use.


The Carbon Cycle

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. It is a building block of all living things and is found nearly everywhere on Earth. Carbon exists in fossil fuels, soil, water, plants, and animals, and in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. We release carbon dioxide gas when we burn fossil fuels and biomass. In turn, plants absorb some of the gas during photosynthesis. Carbon constantly moves in a cycle and never goes away. The carbon cycle is nature's way of moving carbon where it's needed.

Fuel for Thought

Plants help clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Element Part Per Million
Hydrogen 739,000
Helium 290,000
Oxygen 10,700
Carbon 4,600
Neon 1,340
Iron 1,090

Additional topics

Science Encyclopedia for KidsBiofuels