Imagine if energy quite literally grew on trees 26



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Forget solar panels. Our homes could soon be powered by something far more strange and exciting.

Scientists from the Monash University in Melbourne have developed an artificial leaf that could feasibly run entire communities.

According to Wired, this device turns water into fuel using nothing but energy from the sun; a process that goes a long way in replicating the natural photosynthesis that allows actual plants to convert light to energy.

The artificial leaf – which takes the hydrogen particles out of water so it can be used for fuel – can run cheaply and practically, making it one of the cleanest, purest forms of energy systems developed so far.

In fact, it breaks a world record for efficiency in its field, well and truly meeting the official benchmark for an “ultimate sustainable fuel”.

This technology could already be used to fuel many cars already on the market. “Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity directly in fuel cells”, said Professor Doug MacFarlane, who co-authored the study.

“Cars driven by fuel cell electric engines are becoming available from a number of car manufacturers. Hydrogen could even be used as an inexpensive energy storage technology at the household level to store energy from roof-top solar cells”.

The system itself is not quite economical enough to be an affordable household staple – at least not yet – but the researchers kindly made a point to work with affordable nickel components, not a more expensive metal, to ensure it could one day be affordable for the masses.

Scientists have long hoped to create a technology that can copy the effortless efficiency of nature. This breakthrough gives us a whole new hope for a future in which human ingenuity can keep the planet clean and healthy for our grandchildren.

Are you excited by this step toward a cleaner future? Would you try this new technology for yourself?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I say, bring it on. No doubt it will take a while to develop, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Science is a amazing, our Scientists are some of the best in the world but sadly they are leaving Australia in droves, since this Abbott Government cut funding and many lost their jobs. But unlike our Government who is shedding them, the rest of the world is scooping them up

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  3. Hopefully someone will see the sense in this and fund future research to get it to the masses quickly.

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  4. How many you beaut ideas have you seen publicised with a blaze of glory and promise and then disappear into obscurity? The principle appears sound and the idea is beneficial but the proof of the pudding only comes when it is served up.

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    • That’s because big oil conglomerates quietly buy it up and then make it disappear. If the govt. had the foresight to invest in these schemes, we might get somewhere.

  5. This is the second alternative I have read within the last 2 days. If our government were to get on with climate changes then it looks as though there are alternatives that would be within our pockets

  6. It sounds wonderful, but one day I expect we will discover a free energy source that is even easier to harness.

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