A team at Caltech has devised a new film coating that facilitates catalysis and electron transfer in a solar powered system that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be used as fuels. Such a system is also called an artificial leaf or solar-fuel generator because in many ways it mimics the process which plants use to convert sunlight and CO2 into oxygen and fuel (sugars, carbohydrates). The researchers make note, however, that they’re still a long way from making it commercial viable, but these sort of updates are inspiring.
Using only energy from the sun, a pioneering artificial leaf system splits water to generate hydrogen – a highly energy dense fuel. When Daniel Nocera, then a professor at MIT, announced his device for the first time four years ago, people were really hyped about it but it soon became clear that making hydrogen was only part of the solution. “The problem with the artificial leaf,” Nocera says, is that “it makes hydrogen. You guys don’t have an infrastructure to use hydrogen.”
If the leaf really works as the hype would have us believe, then it’s really a fantastic display of ingenuity.
MIT researchers have published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of such a system, basically laying a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of so-called artificial leafs. An artificial leaf has to produce a storable fuel, such as hydrogen, instead of electricity for immediate use; the fuel could then be used
If harnessed at a much greater potential than it is now, sunlight might not only become the primary source of energy on the planet, but the cheapest too. In one hour the sun sprays our planet with enough energy to power all the electrical needs of the word for an entire YEAR. Now that’s something to think about, and luckily
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