Scientists create bionic leaf that converts solar energy into liquid fuel
The quest for creating biofuel using renewable sources of energy or in-fact using renewable sources of energy for sustainable living has always been on humankind’s priority list. Sun being one abundant source of energy that will last for another millions of years safeguards our future once non-renewable sources have depleted to alarming levels. Scientists at the Harvard University have made a breakthrough in creating biofuel which will change the complexion of the near future. Called as Bionic Leaf 2.0, this one is better than the previous one created by them.
Artificial leaf better at photosynthesis than the fastest growing plants
This new innovation comes courtesy Daniel Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University and Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. They have come-up with a system that makes use of solar energy to break up water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then eaten-up by bacteria which produce usable liquid fuels. In a way this is a manmade photosynthesis system which is 10 percent efficient. This is far beyond the ability of fastest growing plants which convert solar energy into biomass with just 1 percent efficiency.
The new catalyst produced by the team which behaves like an artificial leaf is also clean as it doesn’t leach any left-over material into the solution and self-heals. The system is totally biological and that means clean, abundant energy which will last a lifetime.
Daniel Nocera said;
If you think about it, photosynthesis is amazing. It takes sunlight, water, and air — and then look at a tree. That’s exactly what we did, but we do it significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a fuel.
Bionic Leaf 2.0 research is funded by First 100 Watts program at Harvard and Nocera is hopeful of bringing this new kind of biofuel producing method to developing countries like India.