What if your car can run on sunlight? Indian scientists have just taken a solid step to make this dream a reality.
What if your car can run on sunlight? Indian scientists have just taken a solid step to make this dream a reality. They have developed an artificial leaf that can absorb sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water. The researchers believe that this artificial leaf may provide clean energy for powering eco-friendly cars in the future. PTI reported today that the “ultra-thin wireless device” can mimic plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight.
“It is known that hydrogen generation from renewable resources will be the ultimate solution to our energy and environment problems,” Chinnakonda S Gopinath, a senior principal scientist at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, told PTI. According to the scientist, his team has been working on water splitting to generate hydrogen for around 10 years. “Hydrogen burning gives energy and water as a side product, underscoring its importance and relevance to the present day world,” he said. Gopinath further said that this type of research is “very relevant” for India as the country is blessed with plenty of sunlight throughout the year.
How the artificial leaf works
According to the report, the device consists of semiconductors stacked in a manner to simulate the natural leaf system. When visible light strikes these semiconductors, the electrons move in one direction, producing electric current. This current almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen – which is considered to be one of the cleanest forms of fuel.
The presently-used method of hydrogen production emits a large amount of CO2 as it is produced from fossil fuels.
The research was published in the Scientific Reports, an online, open-access journal from the publishers of Nature. Researchers said the artificial leaf method of hydrogen production can be scaled up as it is “simple and practicable”. The research report said the device measuring an area of 23 square centimetres could produce 6 litres of hydrogen fuel per hour.
The research has been patented. But the artificial leaf has been produced only in the lab. Researchers claim in near future, the artificial leaf could fuel cars. But they still need a lot of work on the project. CSIR is looking for partners to develop bigger-sized artificial leaves.