Artificial Leaf is the latest renewable energy tech that can brings a win-win solution to sustainability. How? Let’s find it through this article.
We all know about the problematic trade-off in the present world between fossil fuels and renewables. While renewable energy are reliable in terms of sustainability but not meeting up the enormous energy demand, we have a limited amount of fossil fuels to rethink the use too.
Why not a ‘Win-Win’ to satisfy both sides? Yes, get to know everything about the latest innovation called ‘Artificial Leaf’ and meet the brilliant minds that are the inventors behind this innovation in a few minutes of reading this piece. We are more than sure to amaze you beyond your thinking with information about the importance and challenges of this energy technology and many more! Happy reading, and share how amazed you are!
- What is Artificial Leaf And How Its Work? Latest energy technology-
- Meet the Artificial Leaf-
- Who invent Artificial Leaf? Inventors of Artificial Leaf
What is Artificial Leaf And How Its Work? Latest energy technology-
The fact is scary that we are running out of fossil fuels, and our existence is threatened. While the whole world is trying to conserve or save resources like fuel, coal, natural gas, water, we all know the rate at which we are losing them is beyond our expectations.
I’ll soon give you a ray of hope here. Yes, we do have a fantastic innovation in hand to generate fossil fuel out of sunlight, not just electricity! This innovation is ‘Artificial leaf’ that mimics the natural photosynthesis process but with the benefits of producing energy, invented very recently and in two different ways from two researchers. The innovations are a breakthrough in the renewable energy sector, with the potential of solving the crisis of sustainability. Science has always surprised us, and I’m sure you won’t think otherwise after reading this article! Who knows? You may have an artificial leaf plant on your rooftop soon, having your power plant.
Meet the Artificial Leaf-
The artificial leaf is a device that converts solar energy into other forms of energy or fuel, having the background theory of natural photosynthesis process where plant leaves convert solar energy into glucose and oxygen. This invention is very tricky and simple to give us a permanent solution for energy supply and storage.
From 2017 to 2019, we have got two different types of artificial leaves. The artificial leaf, invented by Daniel Nocera in 2017, uses the sunlight to break the chemical bond in water (H20) to produce hydrogen and oxygen separately. Thus, we can produce oxygen, which is our resort to existence and also hydrogen, which can be stored and used as fuel later on. The device does not look like a leaf, though! Have a look!!
On the other hand, we just got the most recent invention of artificial leaf in 2019 from Yimin Wu, which can produce methanol from harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) of air, which can be used as fuel later on and also oxygen for cleaner air.
Who invent Artificial Leaf? Inventors of Artificial Leaf
Meet the two pioneers of Artificial leaf technologies from two different countries, Mr. Yimin Wu, Professor of Engineering from the University of Waterloo, and Mr. Daniel Nocera, Professor of Energy from Harvard University.
Daniel Nocera is a most influential people in renewable energy circles. He was engaged in the idea of producing energy from leaf since he was in grad school and spent 30 years to work on this technology.
He invented the artificial leaf that produces hydrogen and oxygen from sunlight, leaving virtually no pollutants.
He has Youtube videos, awards, and recognition in the U.S and has been invited to different events in the U.S to present his innovation. Not only that, Times Magazine included him among the top most influential people in 2011.
Coming to his technology, The World Economic Forum listed the artificial leaf among high emerging technologies in 2017.
Now, let’s meet the young and brilliant, Yimin Wu. He conducted researches on this technology in 2015 while working in Illinois with the U.S. Department of Energy. Artificial leaf producing methanol and oxygen from sunlight is his latest in the series of research works that came out in November 2019 in a journal named Nature Energy.
Why innovating Artificial Leaf was important?
You might be wondering why this innovation was even needed, and why it is important. The following facts will tell you why:
– We are presently running out of fossil fuels and also facing a crisis on enough supply of renewable energy. So, the artificial leaf will produce cleaner energy and even methanol or hydrogen fuel as fossil fuels, too which is a win-win to reduce CO2 emission and also ensure sustainability.
– The energy demand of 30 tera watts or 30 trillion watts of energy for an estimated 9 billion people by 2050 needs to be met, which is an emergency. Innovations like an artificial leaf can pave the way for sustainability and necessary changes in energy systems.
– For developed countries, generation is not the problem; storage is. Since the hydrogen produced from the artificial leaf can be stored, so this will lead to quicker entry to the renewable energy market.
– Oil, steel, and automobile companies can take advantage of this technology to produce methanol from carbon dioxide to reduce emissions, which will ensure environmental ethics in those companies.
– In terms of efficiency, artificial leaf uses up 10% of sunlight to produce hydrogen and oxygen, while a plant converts 1% of sunlight into food, which easily proves why the artificial leaf is essential.
– Artificial leaves can be used in arid regions where hydropower is not much feasible. They take up less space than solar panels and also do not need a battery to store energy for later use.
– Last but not least, artificial leaf technology is transportable, and the design is economical.
Challenges ahead :
The reason why we are not getting these artificial leaves in our rooftop is because of many challenges. Since this innovation is at an early stage, a lot of challenges remain to satisfy the current renewable energy market. Replicating a natural process of photosynthesis by satisfying the current energy demand is not easy at all. Let’s go through some of the challenges here:
– Improving the efficiency of artificial leaf technology
– Commercialize the technology or scale it up
– Lowering the cost of producing artificial leaf
The whole renewable sector has some severe obstacles to achieve 100% renewability — in this hectic period of renewable energy, the innovation of artificial leaf may bring some light in the renewable sector.
Final Thought: Is this new tech “Artificial leaf” brings revolution in Renewable Energy :
The best part about the innovation of Artifical leaf invented by both Yiin Wu and Daniel Nocera is that we do not have the trade-off between saving fossil fuel and producing renewable energy.
If properly executed, this innovation can, on the one hand, reduce GHG emissions and ensure a sustainable supply of energy on the other side. It will be a win-win for the whole world.
By reducing costs and effective institutional partnerships, the technologies can be feasible to developing countries too. We can surely hope for a better and greener world if this works; fingers crossed!
If you feel passionate about researches, go for it because you never know what’s in your head that could change the world. Till then, living green or living eco-friendly days. You’ll find an article on this too on our blog. Happy reading!