MIT Develops "Artificial Leaf" to Power Up Developing World

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim to have created an artificial leaf that would not only mimic the photosynthesis process of the real thing, but may also provide power for developing countries.

Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera explains that the artificial leaf, technically an advanced solar cell no bigger than a playing card, is made from stable and inexpensive materials. It works by letting it float in a pool of water, which then uses sunlight to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen. These components are then stored in a fuel cell to produce electricity.

The artificial leaf can allegedly operated continuously for at least 45 hours and is ten times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than an actual leaf. Nocera claims that using a single gallon of water, the chip would produce enough power to light up a house in a developing country for an entire day.

Nocera has signed a contract with Indian conglomerate Tata Group to build a small power plant, the size of a refrigerator, using these artificial leaves. The power plant is expected to begin operations in about a year and a half.

Source: Wired UK

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