Mimicking Nature: Artificial leaves to generate renewable energy

Artificial leaves

The concept:

Scientists have once again left the world guessing over the latest inventions by creating an artificial leaf that can transform sunlightand water into energy. This technology can help in giving way to cheaper power sources in the developing nations. According to a team of experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this artificial leaf that is made fromsilicon, electronics and several catalysts, giving rise to chemical reactions inside the device uses sunlight to break water into oxygen and hydrogen that can be used to generate electricity in a different fuel cell.

What difference will it make?

This latest innovation has already gained many praises and has been termed as the world’s first ever balanced artificial leaf. This activity has not been carried out forany cosmetic purpose, but rather to address the primary functionality problem, particularly related to generation of clean energy. The scientists wanted that it should have same energy input and output as a natural leaf, and they have been quite successful in their endeavor. According to the lab’s observations, these leaves having the size of playing cards have generated output power for 45 hours continuously and consistently. The most important aspect of this innovation is that it has been conceived in the most cost-effective way. The materials used in the making of this leaf are quite affordable, such as cobalt and nickel. Therefore, it is possible to get the most efficient energy source for producing green and clean energy.

The Possibilities:

In the present day world, this artificial leaf can play an important role as a major and reasonable source of electricity, especially for small appliances. What’s required is just a gallon of water and sunlight. The natural sunlight will split the water molecules, as in case of photosynthesis,to release hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen produced can run our small appliances. The artificial leaf is also an inexpensive and sustainable cause of electricity for poor homes in the developing countries, particularly in places like the rural areas of India and Africa. Their affordability can be used as an advantage to give power to basic power systems. And with the progress of technology, there will be a day when it would substitute our major conventional power grids to produce a completely pollution free form of electricity.

Trends

1. Dew Dropartificial leaf extracts water from thin air for plants

Dew Drop artificial leaf

We all love to have indoor plants to add greenery to our life and make our indoors more pleasing, but watering them is a big issue. Industrial designerJacky Wu has come up with an artificial leaf that ensures that your indoor plants never dry up. This device called the Dew Drop takes moisture from air to water the plants. The Dew Drop uses the basic rules of condensation. All that needs to be done is to plant it and connect it to the power supply. The water condenses on its surface and is fed to the plants.

2. MIT’s NoceraLab conceives the world’s first balanced ‘artificial leaf’

MIT's balanced artificial leaf

Researchers at MIT’s NoceraLab, led by Dr. Daniel Nocera, have been successful in uniquely creating an artificial leaf made of inexpensive materials. This is one of the major advancements made in the field of chemistry. This amazing development was announced during the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society on the 27th ofMarch. This leaf utilizes sunlight to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen, and this hydrogen can be effectively used to produce electricity. This leaf, the size of a playing card can consistently produce electricity for 45 hours. Once these leaves are manufactured on a large scale, these natural power generators can be used to create many hydrogen-based green technologies.

3. LEAF conceptconverts atmospheric dew into potable water

Leaf Self-generating water resource

Many people in the under can just dream about portable safe water. In villages, women have to walk long distances to fetch water for the family. Under these circumstances, if someone gives some idea about generating clean and pure water, it seems like a breath of fresh air. One such creative mind, named Anurag Sardana has come up with a very cost effective product that helps in the generation of water with the help of his innovative LEAF. The concept is taken from the shape of a leaf and the entire system is about 18ft tall. It acts as a self-generating source of water that works similar to the formation of dew drops on the leaves. It consists of a solar panel, thermoelectric module, rechargeable battery and charge controller, and all these components work together to create water.

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