Though we have perfect technologies to produce energy from sun light using photo electric cells, photovoltaic panels etc., we could not use them on a large scale due to various factors such as high cost of installation, climatic conditions etc.
But it has been estimated that average sunlight that the world is exposed to in one hour is enough to power all electrical needs of the entire world for 365 days.
Experts say we electricity generated using solar resources account for only 0.05% of our total electricity needs.
In this background, Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), claim to have created an artificial leaf which generates energy using water and sun light.
More interestingly, science media and journals report that Tata Group of India and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor of chemistry Daniel Nocera have signed an agreement to produce artifical leaf commercially which generates hydrogen from sunlight and water.
The leaf is a solar cell. It just does the process which can be equated with photosynthesis as water and sunlight are consumed in the process.
The end product is of course electricity. In the midst of many Science forums, this technology has received much attention as the prototype has proved to generate electricity at a very lesser cost.
When placed in a single gallon of water in bright sunlight, the device could produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country with electricity for a day.
The device could be dropped into anything from a bucket of water to a puddle. In laboratory studies, the artificial leaf prototype operated continuously for 45 hours without a drop in activity.
The artificial leaf produces electricity by splitting water into its two components – hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen and oxygen gases are then stored in a fuel cell, which uses the two materials to produce electricity. The fuel cell could be located on top of a house or beside it.
The artificial leaf is made from silicon, electronics and catalysts, which help to speed up chemical reactions. Unlike previous attempts to create an artificial leaf, this one is made of inexpensive, widely available materials. The catalysts are made of nickel and cobalt, which are highly efficient at splitting water into its two components.
Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT in United States also claim that Artificial Leaf created by them is ten times more efficient than a natural leaf.
We hope this innovation comes to reality and used in large scale, to offset the acute power shortage that we are facing especially in India.
Watch this video in which Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT explains the technology