MIT Scientists Create Artificial Solar Leaf That Can Power Homes

March 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

 The idea of a cell that can reproduce the photosynthetic process came about over ten years ago, but initially required expensive and rare metals and materials that would price out the commercial consumer. But Nocera’s model uses inexpensive nickel and cobalt catalysts. These catalysts effectively and efficiently split hydrogen and oxygen at a production rate of about ten times that of one of Mother Nature’s leaves.
 
Using a simple mixture of sunlight and one gallon of water, the “leaf” which is the size of a playing card, is made of silicon, electronics and the aforementioned catalysts, which speed up the process.  Rather than producing energy directly like a photovoltaic cell, the “leaf” splits the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which then produce electricity for personal and household use. The prototype can produce energy continuously for 45 hours without any fluctuations.
 
Nocera’s leaf could mean big things for household energy everywhere.  Poor and developing countries could source affordable electricity for their homes in small and remote villages without the construction of power lines and the like. In light of the ever increasing oil prices, Nocera’s renewable energy “leaf” would function practically as a furnace, providing low-cost energy as a common household device.  In fact, the “leaf” has been funded in part by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E transformational energy program- via our tax dollars.

Nocera’s “leaf” is ready for commercial production and distribution. Hopefully one day soon, each home will find it as common as a hot water heater!

Read full CleanTechnica article..

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Entry filed under: Renewable Energy, Solar Electric.

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