Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Yet another new breakthrough in low cost solar energy just made its debut, and this one is a doozy: a solar cell the size of a typical leaf, that actually creates energy the same way a leaf does: with photosynthesis. No, for real. You just park it in a bucket of water and

Clean Power

Yes for Real, We Now Have a Genuine Artificial Solar Leaf

Yet another new breakthrough in low cost solar energy just made its debut, and this one is a doozy: a solar cell the size of a typical leaf, that actually creates energy the same way a leaf does: with photosynthesis. No, for real. You just park it in a bucket of water and

Nocera announces cheap new solar cell that uses photosynthesisYet another new breakthrough in low cost solar energy just made its debut, and this one is a doozy: a solar cell the size of a typical leaf, that actually creates energy the same way a leaf does: with photosynthesis. No, for real. You just park it in a bucket of water and it generates enough electricity to power household devices… eventually (more on that below). The announcement was made by the lead researcher on the MIT-based project, Dr. Daniel Nocera, who said, “A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades.”

Solar Power from an Artificial Leaf

The new solar cell is about about the size of a poker card. It doesn’t produce usable electricity directly, like a photovoltaic cell does. Instead, it is used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gasses. These are stored in a fuel cell, which then produces the electricity for household use. The idea is to have the combination of solar “leaf” and fuel cell as an affordable onsite renewable energy appliance that practically anyone could afford, just like a furnace, hot water heater or emergency generator. One sticking point in the research was to find a low-cost catalyst to set off the reaction, and Nocera’s team came up with several alternatives made of nickel and cobalt.

Photosynthesis and Renewable Energy

Though Nocera is apparently the first to come up with a commercially viable, low-cost renewable energy system based on photosynthesis, other researchers are also following the trail. At the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge laboratory, long-running research into a light-harvesting protein from spinach has resulted in a similar hydrogen-producing process.

Affordable Energy, Thank You Federal Government

With oil prices spiking up for the umpteenth time in the past few years, consumers are eager for a solution, and renewable energy is beginning to provide it. When Nocera’s solar leaf is ready for commercial production, we can all pat ourselves on the back: some of our tax dollars have supported his research, through the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E transformational energy program.

Image: Leaf by Kumaravel on flickr.com.


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Clean Power

Perovskite is working its magic on the green hydrogen field and breathing new life into the artificial leaf concept for popping clean H2 out...

Clean Power

A new one-pot "artificial leaf" solar energy harvesting system grabs CO2 from the air, converts it into fuel like magic (or like nanoscience, whatever).

Clean Power

The Obama Administration is throwing $75 million at another one of those silly-sounding research projects, artificial photosynthesis.

Clean Power

First came the artificial leaf, then came the bionic leaf, now make way for a "supersonic solar fuel cell" that uses sunlight to make...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.