Scientists develop ‘bionic leaf’ capable of converting sunlight into liquid fuel

Scientists develop ‘bionic leaf’ capable of converting sunlight into liquid fuel

A team of scientists from Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering claimed to have developed a "bionic leaf" that can convert sunlight into liquid fuel.

The artificial leaf, developed by researchers led by Harvard University researcher Nocera, splits water into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight.

Then, a species of bacteria called Ralstonia eutropha consumes the hydrogen gas, and converts it into protons and electrons. These protons and electrons are integrated into molecules of CO2 as part of the bacteria's reproductive cycle.

This new approach of effectively converting sunlight into liquid fuel creates a synthesis of artificial technology and biology.

Researcher Pamela Silver of the Wyss Institute said, "This is a proof of concept that you can have a way of harvesting solar energy and storing it in the form of a liquid fuel... we had a mission of wanting to interface some kinds of organisms with the harvesting of solar energy."

The new discovery comes as governments and consumers worldwide are eagerly trying to tap alternative fuel and energy sources given climbing prices of conventional fuels, such as oil and gas.

The research appeared in the most recent edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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