Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Secrets of the First Practical Artificial Leaf (limitless energy!)
Science Daily ^ | 5/9/12

Posted on 05/10/2012 9:02:02 AM PDT by LibWhacker

ScienceDaily (May 9, 2012) — A detailed description of development of the first practical artificial leaf -- a milestone in the drive for sustainable energy that mimics the process, photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy -- appears in the ACS journal Accounts of Chemical Research. The article notes that unlike earlier devices, which used costly ingredients, the new device is made from inexpensive materials and employs low-cost engineering and manufacturing processes.

Daniel G. Nocera points out that the artificial leaf responds to the vision of a famous Italian chemist who, in 1912, predicted that scientists one day would uncover the "guarded secret of plants." The most important of those, Nocera says, is the process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The artificial leaf has a sunlight collector sandwiched between two films that generate oxygen and hydrogen gas. When dropped into a jar of water in the sunlight, it bubbles away, releasing hydrogen that can be used in fuel cells to make electricity. These self-contained units are attractive for making fuel for electricity in remote places and the developing world, but designs demonstrated thus far rely on metals like platinum and manufacturing processes that make them cost-prohibitive.

(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science
KEYWORDS: artificial; artificialleaf; energy; hydrogen; leaf; oxygen

1 posted on 05/10/2012 9:02:05 AM PDT by LibWhacker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker

bookmark


2 posted on 05/10/2012 9:09:55 AM PDT by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker
Ohhhh kay, what was so expensive about just planting a seed?

Do these make more of themselves?

Bear fruit?

What's the point?....

...and how much did this cost?

3 posted on 05/10/2012 9:11:37 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Smokin' Joe

Not a leaf at all, but an electrolysis device. It doesn’t make glucose. Phooey.


4 posted on 05/10/2012 9:14:41 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Smokin' Joe

Do you know of any plants that produce free hydrogen as a result of photosynthesis?

That’s the magic of these leaves. If this stuff is really cheap to make, in terms of materials, it would be a great way for 24/7 power, as you could generate a surplus during the day of hydrogen, and run the same fuel cells during the night hours.

Until storage batteries advance far enough, we are basically stuck storing electricity in a different form than electrochemical potential.


5 posted on 05/10/2012 9:20:21 AM PDT by Aqua225 (Realist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker

Very cool, one to definitely keep an eye on. We’ll get there, it is just a matter of time.

All energy comes from the sun, it’s just a matter of how efficient we become at harvesting it. Waiting millions of years for the products of photosynthesis to decay into oil is the most inefficient, but convenient. This is the future.

Getting rid of platinum is a huge plus.


6 posted on 05/10/2012 9:21:25 AM PDT by bigbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker
The myth of cheap solar power continues to delude millions.

I don’t care how cheap you make a solar power generator you can still only expect the Sun to give you 120 watts per square meter per day. That is not a lot of power.

You also must factor in the opportunity cost. If you are using those square meters for the production of power or fuel you are not using them to produce food. If you use those dollars to buy solar cells you do not have those dollars to buy another means of power (mining or drilling).

Solar power is a last ditch method of power production that you turn too when nothing else is available. Wind also falls in to this area of power production. They produce expensive and unreliable power.

7 posted on 05/10/2012 9:22:22 AM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Smokin' Joe

Yeah, they didn’t talk about that. Not sure how much the research cost. I’m guessing plants aren’t such a good solution because plants are basically selfish, doing photosynthesis for themselves, not us. So we end up scrounging byproducts, while the plant gets the lion’s share? But again, I’m definitely not a biologist, so what do I know? Secondly, seasonality must be a problem if you want to produce energy on a massive scale in temperate climates.


8 posted on 05/10/2012 9:23:05 AM PDT by LibWhacker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Smokin' Joe

Damn! I just went “all-in” on algae!

/s, of course


9 posted on 05/10/2012 9:24:44 AM PDT by pingman (Durn tootin'; I like Glock shootin'!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Aqua225
You can't eat hydrogen. Photosynthesis occurs in leaves, so calling it an artificial leaf isn't accurate. Call it what it is: a hydrogen ( and oxygen) generator, or better yet a solar powered electrolysis device, but a leaf? No.

The title is misleading.

Now, as someone who has worked with hydrogen under pressure, using this technology in the third world will be interesting, to say the least (chase down a MSDS on Hydrogen). Fuel cells might be a different matter.

10 posted on 05/10/2012 9:27:56 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker
So we end up scrounging byproducts, while the plant gets the lion’s share?

Yeah. Like firewood.

11 posted on 05/10/2012 9:29:13 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker

too cheap to meter?


12 posted on 05/10/2012 9:34:01 AM PDT by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pingman

That’s nothing. I just nailed my radio to my tree and it doesn’t work.


13 posted on 05/10/2012 9:37:38 AM PDT by donhunt (Certified and proud "Son of a Bitch".)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: camle

I doubt it. The labor alone involved in producing it almost guarantees it won’t be free (unless we’re talking about the far future when robots do all the work).


14 posted on 05/10/2012 9:44:53 AM PDT by LibWhacker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Pontiac

[ The myth of cheap solar power continues to delude millions.

I don’t care how cheap you make a solar power generator you can still only expect the Sun to give you 120 watts per square meter per day. That is not a lot of power.

You also must factor in the opportunity cost. If you are using those square meters for the production of power or fuel you are not using them to produce food. If you use those dollars to buy solar cells you do not have those dollars to buy another means of power (mining or drilling).

Solar power is a last ditch method of power production that you turn too when nothing else is available. Wind also falls in to this area of power production. They produce expensive and unreliable power. ]

To heck with Solar, oil, nuclear fission, or even nuclear fusion....

Zero Point Energy is the only way to power humanity forever, even past the “heat death of the universe” No one ever thinks ahead as far as they should be....


15 posted on 05/10/2012 9:47:19 AM PDT by GraceG
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Aqua225

[ That’s the magic of these leaves. If this stuff is really cheap to make, in terms of materials, it would be a great way for 24/7 power, as you could generate a surplus during the day of hydrogen, and run the same fuel cells during the night hours.

Until storage batteries advance far enough, we are basically stuck storing electricity in a different form than electrochemical potential. ]

Hopefully it is cheaper than bio-algae... wouldn’t that make the greenies angry if we replace their precious plants with artificial ones.


16 posted on 05/10/2012 9:48:29 AM PDT by GraceG
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker

Plants produce Carbon dioxide, not hydrogen gas !


17 posted on 05/10/2012 9:48:45 AM PDT by jonatron (This is the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jonatron

Plants use carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.


18 posted on 05/10/2012 10:02:21 AM PDT by Ratman83
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker
Basic research, such as this example, is much more likely to bear fruit (well metaphorical fruit, at least), than massive government subsidies for industrial-scale installation of unproven or uneconomic (or both) “green” energy projects.

If it weren't for the panic the bogus AGW scare has created, we wouldn't be in a such a rush to shovel money at self-proclaimed green energy. Giant wind farms, solar farms, and farms for fuel (e.g. ethanol from corn) will continue to go bust, the moment the government money tap is turned off.

Getting things right in the lab first; followed by demonstration-scale projects is the tried and proven way to develop new technologies. IMHO, unless, and until massive subsidies are provided to install forests and fields of these artificial leaves, there is no reason for conservatives to oppose the research.

19 posted on 05/10/2012 10:26:50 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bigbob
All energy comes from the sun

Not quite. Nuclear energy isn't directly related to input from the sun.

20 posted on 05/10/2012 10:39:21 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: jonatron

Okay, now you’ve got me worried. Isn’t water broken down into oxygen and hydrogen (not free hydrogen) during photosynthesis? This isn’t my area, so I’ll shut up now.


21 posted on 05/10/2012 10:45:35 AM PDT by LibWhacker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

Well put, couldn’t agree more.


22 posted on 05/10/2012 10:47:57 AM PDT by LibWhacker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: LibWhacker

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio104/photosyn.htm


23 posted on 05/10/2012 11:02:36 AM PDT by SouthernBoyupNorth ("For my wings are made of Tungsten, my flesh of glass and steel..........")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Pontiac

Kind of makes you wonder how well they’d work on say... the Moon for a permanent habitat. Breaking down water in the lunar regolith and using it for power and oxygen would seem to be pretty darn handy.


24 posted on 05/10/2012 11:17:05 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (Steampunk- Yesterday's Tomorrow, Today)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Dead Corpse
That would work better because outside of the atmosphere you have about 1000 watts per square meter.

The only problem there is longevity. You are also subjecting the solar cell to unshielded cosmic rays which will damage the cell. Also on the moon you have the problem of a source of water. The say there is water at the poles but you have to transport the water to the equator where the sun is the strongest.

Another problem on the moon is that half the month the cell is in darkness.

25 posted on 05/10/2012 11:22:59 AM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Pontiac

There is also asteroid mining, exploration, etc...

The problems you mention are easily over come.

Relax. You don’t want to you this tech? You think it’s worthless?

No problem. As long as we retain free markets, no one will force you to participate in any way.


26 posted on 05/10/2012 11:30:19 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (Steampunk- Yesterday's Tomorrow, Today)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Dead Corpse
You think it’s worthless?

No I don’t think any technology is worthless, especially one that makes any process cheaper.

I do however believe that it is worthless for the purpose the Author espouses.

"Considering that it is the 6 billion nonlegacy users that are driving the enormous increase in energy demand by midcentury, a research target of delivering solar energy to the poor

The poor are much better served by more traditional sources of power that are far cheaper and easier to maintain.

27 posted on 05/10/2012 11:44:32 AM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Smokin' Joe
You can't eat hydrogen. Photosynthesis occurs in leaves, so calling it an artificial leaf isn't accurate. Call it what it is: a hydrogen ( and oxygen) generator, or better yet a solar powered electrolysis device, but a leaf? No.

Actually ALL leaves produce hydrogen as the first chemical step in carboHYDRATE production. The hydrogen never escapes the chloroplast though it is used to reduce CO2 to sugars but make no mistake every photosynthetic organism on earth starts with using solar photons to break H2O in to H+ OH. There are a number or bacteria that can directly use H+ or H2 to synthesis a number or organic molecules on a industrial scale CH4 from Methogenic bacteria can be feed CO2 and H2 and Methane is the end product. Other Ecoli can take H2 or H+ and CO2 turn it into butanol or glucose or ethanol or acetic acid. Plants are only 1% efficient at converting sun light into biomass these cells should be like most single band gap cells about 10% eff. Forget biofuels make food with these things for monogastric animal feeds. A ten fold improvement in biomass rates would revolutionize the feed and food industries. Look up the electrofuels DOE program they have at least 8 organisms that can take free hydrogen and turn it into some kind of carbohydrate. That is well the essence of what a leaf is water + sun = carbohydrates. If they can get the costs per meter squared down enough to produce sugars at 15 cents per lb they will undercut any biological production of biomass on the planet. Given that they are starting out already 10 to 15 times more efficiency in solar photons to free hydrogen and Ecoli are upwards of 90% efficient at converting that into cellular mass they have a HUGE head start on nature.

28 posted on 05/10/2012 3:12:30 PM PDT by JD_UTDallas ("Veni Vidi Vici")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan
energy comes from the sun

Not quite. Nuclear energy isn't directly related to input from the sun.

All energy comes from the debris of the ancient supernova that our solar system is composed of. Any element higher than Iron on the atomic mass scale was made in the core of a exploding supernova and we already know given the iron ratio of our sun that our whole solar system is the ash of a near by supernova.

29 posted on 05/10/2012 3:16:45 PM PDT by JD_UTDallas ("Veni Vidi Vici")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: donhunt

It’s the galvanizing; really!


30 posted on 05/10/2012 5:44:37 PM PDT by pingman (Durn tootin'; I like Glock shootin'!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: JD_UTDallas

Fair enough. However, nuclear energy is not directly created by input from our sun.


31 posted on 05/10/2012 6:50:16 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan
Right nuclear energy is literally the stored energy of gravitational collapse of the parent supernova it is in that final gravitational collapse that all elements with atomic mass greater than iron are created as the balance of gravity and nuclear fusion is lost and gravity wins. These engines of creation then spew these new elements to the cosmos. We are all quite literally star dust as the iron in our blood was created in our parent supernova as well.

Interesting point is that nuclear energy uses these heavy atoms created by a star and splits them into lighter atoms thus reversing what gravity has pushed together. So nuclear power is still very much solar power it is only the equivalent of fossil fuels of the stars.

The binding curve of matter is arguably humanities greatest scientific achievement pretty much all other quantum mechanics is derived from that single understanding. Once a species understands the binding curve it has the ability to power its expansion into the cosmos via Fission and Fusion plus antimatter or to blow itself up in the most grotesque fashion. It is a test that all intelligent species must face at some point.

32 posted on 05/10/2012 10:10:48 PM PDT by JD_UTDallas ("Veni Vidi Vici")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: JD_UTDallas

And of course Fermi postulated that the reason we have no evidence that ET life exists is that other species have failed this test.


33 posted on 05/11/2012 2:09:49 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson