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Friday, 15 April 2011
‘Artificial leafs’ turn water and sunlight into electricity
The sun is the biggest source of energy on our planet, and it’s all natural. It’s enough to realize that in one hour the sun produces enough energy to power all the electrical needs of the word for an entire YEAR! Naturally, research has been underway for many years now for means of practically and efficiently exploiting this remarkable natural resource, however progress is slow and so far solar energy accounts for a negligible percentage (around 0.05%) of the total electricity generating resources.
Conventional photovoltaic solar panels are getting more popular and used, but rejoicing as it is, they’re highly inefficient and hard to deploy at a necessary mass scale. A very interesting alternative is the so called “artificial leaf” technology, which has been in the works for a decade now, but only recently it has come to a practical, efficient and cheap form out of MIT labs.
What artificial leafs do is harness the power of nature just like nature does it, in this case by artificial photosynthesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Daniel Nocera presented the results of his work and that of colleagues on the artificial leaf at this year’s National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. There, he showed how we can draw cheap and clean energy from water and the sun, by splitting water to get hydrogen fuel and oxygen.