October 01, 2016

Bionic Leaf

From the science that evolved to the world that we see- using electricity, Scientists have figured out how to harness solar energy from photovoltaic cells to yield hydrogen that can be later used in fuel cells. The photosynthesis process involves solar energy converted into sugar molecules from air and water that can feed the biotic component.
Bionic leaves are artificial leaves that have mastered the art of this process using a catalyst to make sunlight split water into hydrogen and oxygen, with a bacterium engineered to convert CO2 and Hydrogen into liquid fuel. Harvard University had assigned work on this particular project, but the recent results proved the fact that there was no practical usage of this Hydrogen produced. The findings are published Feb. 9 in PNAS. The co-first authors are Joseph Torella, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the HMS Department of Systems Biology, and Christopher Gagliardi, a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H.Adams, Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at HMS and an author of the paper, calls the system a bionic leaf, a nod to the artificial leaf invented by the paper’s senior author, Daniel Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. In their new system, once the artificial leaf produces oxygen and hydrogen, the hydrogen is fed to a bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha. An enzyme takes the hydrogen back to protons and electrons, then combines them with carbon dioxide to replicate, making more cells.  Anthony Sinskey, professor of microbiology and of health sciences and technology at MIT, new pathways in the bacterium are metabolically engineered to make organic compounds. The inorganic catalyst with biology (new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst) provides a unique platform for chemical synthesis over inorganic catalysts alone. They are now working to provide 5% efficiency on the conversion of solar energy to Biomass by optimizing the factors that they were dependant on. By pairing up Machine and microbe, the new bionic leaves gain the best features of both. The the idea is to reverse combustion to produce reactants in an amount huger then what we would consume. This would in particular help solve the problem of Global warming. Some of the scientists even believe the fact that if we could produce enzymes used for building chemicals, it could open the door for making Other natural compounds that we rely on every day. This methodology is also referred to as “artificial photosynthesis,” which involves a semiconductor wafer coated in a catalyst that could be dropped in water, to produce hydrogen gas and out of heating this zero-carbon energy system/carbon-neutral system, using clean fuel that can recycle the carbon in the air, sets to play a vital role for our environment by not contributing to factors that raise global temperature or ocean acidification. [line]
They can also produce alcohol such as isobutanol and isopropanol that boosts their efficiency up to 10%, proving to be much better than natural photosynthesis. The chemical design of these leaves that are said to be “self-healing” allows them to not leech material through the solution, adding up to its advantages and therefore increasing their experimental use. For now, these scientists rely on pulling electricity from the wall, haven’t proved the same efficiency from using solar energy. Renewable sources that we depend upon, which is said to serve our future through sustainable development, can be made possible with this source of energy conversion. Bionic leaves are one among many examples, under development process, that could solve problems involving the destruction of our environment, hence over increasing the production and scale value, these leaves could possibly meet our commercial needs and applications.

Whatsapp Button works on Mobile Device only