New artificial leaf creates fuel from sunlight, water

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Sep 2017 08:45:35



The ultra-thin wireless device mimics plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight

SCIENTISTS have developed an artificial leaf that absorbs sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water, an advance that may provide clean energy for powering eco-friendly cars in the future.
The ultra-thin wireless device mimics plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight.

“It is known that hydrogen generation from renewable resources will be the ultimate solution to our energy and environment problems,” said Chinnakonda S Gopinath, a senior principal scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune. Gopinath said that his team had been working in the area of water splitting to generate hydrogen for nearly a decade.

“Hydrogen burning gives energy and water as a side product, underscoring its importance and relevance to the present day world,” he told PTI. Though India basked in sunlight, not enough had been done to translate it into energy, he said.
“This line of research is very relevant to our country.

India is blessed with plenty of sunlight through the year that is not exploited significantly to produce energy or hydrogen,” he said. The device consists of semiconductors stacked in a manner to simulate the natural leaf system. When visible light strikes the semiconductors, electrons move in one direction, producing electric current.

The current almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen - which researchers believe is one of the cleanest forms of fuel as its main byproduct is water.
At present, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming and in this process emits a large amount of carbon di-oxide (CO2) - a green house gas that promotes global warming. In view of pressing energy and environmental issues, it was important to produce hydrogen from natural resources such as sunlight and water, Gopinath said.