Scientists at Harvard have been working for some time on creating Artificial Leaves that can replicate the process of using sunlight to create energy.
Under the project, they created leaves which absorb solar energy, to split the water molecules into their component gases (oxygen and hydrogen), which were then used to create power.
The project was successful, but the efficiency was still limited. To improve on the production capacity, the researchers decided to use a specially engineered bacteria which can now create liquid fuels from that hydrogen.
The key to the success of this leaf is a new type of catalyst made from cobalt-phosphorous alloy which lowers the voltage needed to run the system, leading to a remarkable increase in efficiency.
This new system has already been tested in the laboratory, where it demonstrated it’s abilities by creating compounds such as isobutanol, isopentanol and PHB, a bio-plastic precursor.
The researchers are calling this new leaf, the Bionic Leaf 2.0 and it is already claimed to be 10 times as efficient as a natural leaf.
The team is currently working on the different commercial applications for this technology, in addition to it’s uses as an inexpensive source of renewable energy.
The research on this technology has been published in the Science Journal, with more updates on the way.