The ‘artificial leaf’ created by researchers is actually more of a solar-powered device that is able to produce hydrogen with a record-breaking degree of efficiency. The details of the technology, which marks a massive step towards simulating practical, artificial photosynthesis, have been laid out in a paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
The process involves basically splitting up the water by passing an electric current through it, separating out the hydrogen particles so they can be used for fuel. While it sounds expensive, it is apparently cheap to do, and results in one of the cleanest forms of energy, which contains no carbon and produces no carbon dioxide as a by-product.
“Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity directly in fuel cells. Cars driven by fuel cell electric engines are becoming available from a number of car manufacturers. Hydrogen could even be used as an inexpensive energy storage technology at the household level to store energy from roof-top solar cells,” said Prof. Doug MacFarlanesaid, co-author of the paper.