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Artificial Leaf – A Blessing for Energy Crisis

The environmental and associated concerns including pollution, climate change, health issues, etc. All the environmental and associated concerns have drawn quite some attention globally over the years. While there is no mechanism to completely eliminate these challenges. A lot of efforts are being made worldwide to reduce the impact of these issues and build a sustainable ecosystem. Researchers led by MIT professor Daniel Nocera have produced something they’re calling an “artificial leaf”. Like living leaves, the device can turn the energy of sunlight directly into a chemical fuel that can be stored & used later as an energy source.

In just 1hr, more energy reaches the Earth from the sun than is used by humanity in a whole year. Over billions of years, plants have evolved effective ways to harness this abundant resource. Plant absorbed light energy and store it as sugars, a chemical energy supply that can be drawn upon as needed. But human societies rely on energy derived from fossil fuels – finite resources that have appalling consequences in terms of climate and global geopolitics. Couldn’t we instead mimic photosynthesis, and convert light into green fuel?

Artificial leaf is a device made entirely of earth-abundant, inexpensive materials — mostly silicon, cobalt and nickel — and works in ordinary water. Other attempts to produce devices that could use sunlight to split water have relied on corrosive solutions or on relatively rare and expensive materials such as platinum.

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Construction of Artificial leaf

  1. Si semiconductor – Act as light harvesting catalyst. It captures solar light.
  1. Co-OEC-> cobalt – oxygen evolving complex, It deposits oxygen at anode side(on illuminated side of cell).
  1. NiMoZn – Produces H₂ from combining H⁺ & e⁻ made available from semiconductor at cathode side.
  1. ITO(Indium tin oxide) layer – A conducting metal oxide layer to stabilize silicon in water.
  1. Stainless steel – Used for support. Si deposited on it.

The chemical reaction of Artificial leaf

Detailed process

In nature, photosynthesis converts the energy in sunlight to stored chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. In the photosynthesis process of green plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, water split into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is the energetic component and reacts with carbon dioxide (in a process of proton/ CO2 reduction) to form carbohydrates. Then oxygen released as a by-product. The concept of creating energy-rich fuel in the form of hydrogen gas or a liquid (such as alcohol) by means of artificial photosynthesis is attractive because it represents a very renewable technology for energy production.

A future can be envisaged in which individual homes could be equipped with solar-collection systems. The Panels on the roof could use sunlight to produce hydrogen and oxygen that would be stored in tanks. Then fed to a fuel cell whenever electricity is needed. Such systems could be made simple and inexpensive enough so that they could be widely adopted throughout the world, including many areas that do not presently have access to reliable sources of electricity.


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8 thoughts on “Artificial Leaf – A Blessing for Energy Crisis

  1. Great artical, detailed explanation. Hydrogen fuel cells requirement is increasing day by day in Automobile Sector too as the Hydrogen Cells carry more energy density than LiPo or Li-ion cells. If this methodology implemented to refill fuel cells then it will be a great milestone.

  2. As we are facing many environmental issue and diseases, we are very concerned about our future. But seeing these kind of invention gives us hopes. this article have been written very clear so people like me who has no science background also can understand it easily

  3. It’s a very fantastic way to resolve the energy crisis . We need to focus on such things happening in the world .

  4. informative article, a resolution in the field of energy crisis

  5. Very innovative idea!!!!!
    Detailed description with precision!!!
    Expected from a girl of your Calibre!!
    Keep it up di!!!

  6. Information is very good keep it up good and idea is best . An innovative idea

  7. I have learned a lot, this is really good invention and we all need more these types of inventions. Good job Priya ?.

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