Artificial Leaf Could Change The Solar Power Game As We Know It

Last November we wrote about scientists from Linköping University in Sweden who turned living roses into electronic circuits. That process allows plant-based fuel cells to convert photosynthetic sugars into electricity, which is pretty damn awesome.

Now Harvard scientists have developed a leaf-like system that could one-up natural photosynthesis when it comes to converting solar energy. The system is basically a jar of bacteria (Ralstonia eutropha), a cobalt water-splitting system and a pair of electrodes. Sounds like a home-made science project, yeah?

Anyway, when electricity is sent though this system, the electrodes turn the water into hydrogen as that you can use for fuel and carbon-based materials. The established baseline for real-world performance is eight percent, but this little doodad operates at 10 percent efficiency. So ha!

It sounds nice on paper. but the researchers aren’t exactly sure how to implement the damn thing. In fact, they’re still working on a way to connect the system to solar cells and have noted that they’re unsure of how it will function in varying climates. When they do figure all that out, they’ll have created something that can bring (and store when the sun isn’t out) cheap, eco-friendly energy to developing regions.

What’s more important about this research, is that we’re one step away from this…



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