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Monday, March 28, 2011

First Practical Artificial Leaf Released


A research team at MIT lead by Dr. Daniel Nocera released the worlds first practical artificial leaf today at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.

This is not the first artificial leaf however, but it is the first practical one. A man named John Turner, of the U.S National Renewable Energy Laboratory made an artificial leaf over ten years ago, it was not however, the least bit practical. It used costly metals and could only last one day.

The leaf being developed at MIT is reportedly capable of supplying a house in a developing country with enough energy to last a day, but unlike the previous effort by Turner, Nocera’s leaf is made of silicon. with nickel and cobalt catalysts. Which are pretty common and very cheap materials to mass produce. Using the leaf, according to Nocera is as easy as placing it in a gallon of water in bright sunlight. All one would need to do after that is connect it to a fuel cell on the top of, or beside their home and just like that cheap power.

The MIT team is reporting 45 hours of battery life in lab conditions without a single drop in activity. According to Nocera it’s the new discovery of Nickel and Cobalt catalysts that allow his leaves to be 10 times more efficient than a natural leaf.

According to Nocera "A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades" so this is no small accomplishment. Nocera has started a company called Sun Catalytix to further develop the technology.

Source: Gizmag

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