Developing artificial leaves for clean energy
Amid growing global awareness of climate change, the scientific community is coming up with new and groundbreaking methods to fulfill energy demand without harming the environment.
For this week's IT and Science Front, we look into a local team of researchers that has developed a way to obtain a vital energy source, hydrogen,... through a method based on how plants obtain their energy, photosysnthesis.
In other words, energy obtained from the most basic of materials: water and sunlight.
Our tech correspondent Kim Ji-yeon reports.
Hydrogen is often seen as a viable alternative energy source,... used in fuel cells and hybrid automobiles.
However, current methods to obtain hydrogen require the burning of fossil fuels,... which directly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and contradicting their eco-friendly purpose in the first place.
But that's about to change, as a research team from the Pohang University of Science and Technology says it has found a new, and non-polluting way to produce hydrogen.
The team says it has developed a core technology essential for the development of artificial leaves that imitate plants' photosynthesis.
The process involves the production of hydrogen by splitting water after exposure to sunlight.
Since the new technology uses only sunlight and water to produce the energy source,... it renders it unnecessary to burn fossil fuels resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. "The technology is expected to help solve real-world problems involving global warming and provide new sources of energy."
The team aligned bullet-shaped brookites, an oxide mineral, with titanium foils... and enhanced their electrical properties by boiling them with solutions of sodium hydroxide.
The researchers also add the newly developed synthesis method is not only highly efficient, but also far less expensive than other similar methods. "The newly developed method is simple and has no risk of emitting pollutants. It's also less expensive than previous similar methods,... and has the potential of being developed and applied in large-scale projects."
The team says its next research goal is to discover materials that could absorb more sunlight than brookites nano particles.
The ultimate goal is to develop highly efficient 'photosynthesis cells' comprised of solar panels and photoelectric cells... that could pave the way for the next-generation of solar panels.