New technologies have been explored for years to make the most of the sun's energy. But new inventions are being developed to use this light to generate fuel, such as ultra-thin artificial leaves that float on water.
These leaves had been developed by a group of scientists from Cambridge University, The United Kingdom, and are remarkable for their ability to produce clean fuel from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). There are flexible devices inspired by photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into nutrients.
The floating artificial leaves contain cells that use the sun's energy to stimulate chemical reactions that produce fuel, by simulating photosynthesis of plants. These autonomous devices with a cost-effective could be used to generate a sustainable alternative to petrol.
In 2019, the same group of scientists introduced the first artificial leaf that produced synthesis gas. Over the years, they have been looking for ways to reduce the materials used in these devices, so that they could float on water without losing any of their efficiency.
The new artificial leaves could be placed in an open sea of any country to support energy security and would avoid further use of the earth's surface. For the time being, scientists have tested these devices on the river Cam in Cambridge.
The device must be improved, but it is the first time that clean fuel has been generated in water.
If their capacity is expanded, these artificial leaves could also be used in polluted waterways, in harbours or even at sea. It could even help reduce the global shipping industry's dependence on fossil fuels, according to its creators.
Castañón, N., 2022. Estas ingeniosas hojas artificiales generan combustible a partir de la luz solar y el agua. [online] El Español. Available at: <https://www.elespanol.com/omicrono/tecnologia/20220823/ingeniosas-hojas-artificiales-generan-combustible-partir-solar/697430433_0.html> [Accessed 31 August 2022].