Skip to comments.Secrets of the First Practical Artificial Leaf (limitless energy!)
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 ...
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.
Well put, couldn’t agree more.
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.
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.
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.
No I dont 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.
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.
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.
It’s the galvanizing; really!
Fair enough. However, nuclear energy is not directly created by input from our sun.
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.
And of course Fermi postulated that the reason we have no evidence that ET life exists is that other species have failed this test.