TechLeaves produce fuel intending to replace crude oil

Leaves produce fuel intending to replace crude oil

A leaf that produces fuel. A British project.
A leaf that produces fuel. A British project.
Images source: © University of Cambridge
ed. KLT

8:41 AM EST, November 21, 2023

A group of scientists from the University of Cambridge is developing an innovative device designed to imitate the natural process of photosynthesis. The artificial leaf, using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, could potentially produce eco-friendly fuel.

The Cambridge researchers are pouring their efforts into creating cutting-edge technology to construct autonomous, floating, ecologically friendly fuel factories built from artificial leaves. These factories will utilize carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water for fuel production. The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that this fuel production won't lead to extra carbon dioxide emissions.

The under-development device at the University of Cambridge, designed to output synthetic fuel, operates similarly to natural photosynthesis. The inventors of this solution are confident that it could be employed on an industrial scale in the future.

Erwin Reisner, a professor of energy and sustainable development at the University of Cambridge, highlights that solar panels are a valuable tool for generating electricity and significantly contribute to achieving net-zero emissions. Nonetheless, the professor believes that utilizing sunlight to produce non-fossil fuels, which could be used in vehicles or ships, takes the solution to an entirely new level.

Photosynthesis to fuel production

The scientists plan to use artificial leaves to construct "carpets" that would rest on the surfaces of rivers and lakes. Reisner points out that this solution doesn't decarbonize the economy as it consistently employs carbon.

"Carbon remains a primary component. However, what we're doing could be termed as 'defossilizing' the economy. Instead of burning ancient carbon sources like coal, oil, and gas and adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, we're suggesting an alternative," explains Reisner.

The artificial leaf, floating on the water's surface, produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide, ingredients that can be used to manufacture fuel. Scientists underline the significance of using sunlight as the power source for these substances' production in this process. One of their chief aims is to use artificial leaves to make fuels that could power the aviation industry and ships.

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