News, Comments and Ideas from all over the world in Sustainability and Social Design
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Fake Plastic Trees? Maybe, but at least they're full of solar leaves!
April 6th, 2011. Nature always provides inspiration in many ways to man and the manner in which a leaf uses the sun for photosynthesis has been mimicked by Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT. Many people have tried to do this and there are other research projects which are ongoing, but this one has succeeded. This artificial solar leafcan actually provide enough low cost energy to power a home for one day.
Earlier projects used very expensive and rare metals so were not viable for commercial use. This new solar leaf, which is actually like a small playing card, made of silicon and electronics, uses nickel and cobalt catalysts to hydrogen and oxygen ten times more than a natural leaf.
It is simple to use and merely has to be put in a gallon of water in the sunlight. The resulting energy is stored in a fuel cell which can be near the house or on top of it. The prototype was able to work continuously for 45 hours.
The ramifications for this are enormous. Electricity is in short supply all over the world and there are many places which don’t have electricity at all. Whether it is villages in rural areas in Africa or Asia or other off grid places, or even on the battlefield, or during natural disasters, this solar leaf can provide energy without power lines all over the place. For the environmentally friendly, this is another boost to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce power costs.