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Researchers Use ‘Bionic Leaf’ to Convert Solar Energy into Liquid Fuel

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School have discovered a way to make liquid fuel out of the most renewable of energy, solar energy. The research was posted in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that researchers made use of photovoltaic cells in order to convert solar energy to hydrogen.

Harvard Scientists finds Novel Way to Create Solar Energy into Liquid Fuel Photo Credit: Flickr

Harvard Scientists finds Novel Way to Create Solar Energy into Liquid Fuel
Photo Credit: Flickr

The researchers made a ‘bionic leaf’ that makes use of sunlight in order to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. Ralstonia eutropha, a bacteria, is the star of the show as it brings about conversion of hydrogen along with carbon dioxide into isopropanol or put simply, the liquid we use so conventionally.

At the moment, an efficiency of 1% can be derived for making isopropanol, which is also equal to the natural process in which photosynthesis converts sunlight into biomass. With the bionic leaf, scientists are striving to reach a 5% efficiency mark.

It is considered that generation of liquid fuel from solar energy could aid in advance hydrogen adoption. The researchers are also expecting that the findings will pave the way for a new movement in creating energy on a local basis, a step further to creating an energy-rich world.

While talking about the novel discovery, Pamela Silver, Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), said, “This is a proof of concept that you can have a way of harvesting solar energy and storing it in the form of a liquid fuel”.

Silver also said that the news also proves that they are working hard to make things much more convenient. Senior author of the study, Daniel Nocera, who is also the professor of Energy at the Harvard University, told that artificial leaf made by them is highly dependent on the catalyst made from materials that don’t cost a fortune, and are also readily available.

Nocera added that the catalysts made by them are well adapted and are also compatible with the growth conditions vital for a living organism like bacteria.


About Enozia Vakil

Enozia Vakil is an online entrepreneur, writer, editor and an avid reader. She has been associated with some of the best names in both online and print media, and holds a degree in Alternative Medicine.

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