Cambridge Researchers published a research paper on Nature about Artificial Leaf that produces syngas. It is a fuel gas made from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is used as a building block to produce liquid fuel that can be used as an alternative for petrol. The procedure required sunlight water and carbon dioxide, so it is completely eco-friendly that reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and doing similar work as trees did.
History of Artificial Leaf
Scientists are researching Artificial Leaf for decades. In Boulder, Colorado the first one is being developed around 2 decades ago by John Turner of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. But that made of expensive rare material and not practical to widely use with the life span of 1 day.
Then the next research came ahead on 30th September 2011 at the journal Science. The Henry Dreyfus Professor of chemistry and professor of Energy at MIT Daniel G. Nocera is the senior author. And the co-author of the paper Steven Reece PhD ’07 is his former student.
And now a few months ago 21st October 2019 Cambridge researcher Erwin Reisner and his colleges published the result on Nature about the Artificial Leaf with the huge advancements that are able to produce an alternative for petrol and we are gonna discuss next on this article.
Artificial Leaf Working Mechanism
The Artificial Leaf is inspired by the natural leaves how the chlorophylls are doing their job on photosynthesis to produce food. The device consists of two light absorbers combined with a catalyst. Researchers use abundant element cobalt instead of platinum or silver as their molecular catalyst because cobalt is not only lower in cost, it is a better carbon monoxide producer than other catalysts.
When the device is immersed in water, by using catalyst one light absorber produce oxygen and another is responsible for the chemical reaction between water and carbon dioxide that produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide in presence of sunlight, this is the formation of syngas mixture. Syngas used to produce plastics, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, fuels and many more commodities. They are mainly focusing on making liquid fuel that is an alternative for petrol.
Alternative for Petrol
Artificial Leaf produces syngas and it is used as the building block to develop a sustainable liquid fuel as an alternative for petrol. The device is powered by sunlight and required carbon dioxide and water to process. Like photosynthesis, it reduces carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Researchers are currently working on the project that they can directly produce liquid fuel instead of produce syngas first and then converting it into liquid fuel.
Artificial Leaf Advancements
The Artificial Leaf has become advanced than it was first developed. “You could use it from dawn until dusk, anywhere in the world”. Said by the first author of the paper Virgil Andrei, PhD student. It is a cloudy day, rainy day or snowy day, you are on a hot desert or cold desert if water present in liquid form Artificial Leaf is gonna perform it works, on every weather condition at anywhere in the world until daylight is present outside.
Due to Global Warming and Earth’s Climate Change, the water level of the sea is increasing dramatically and pollution is increasing in such a manner that breathing on-air is almost impossible in some places. The Artificial Leaf could help to reverse Earth’s Climate Change and produce renewable energy to fulfill the energy need of earth. Where only 25% of energy is fulfilling by Electricity now and fossil fuel is ending up soon, this technology might help us in the future to survive.
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