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Tata and MIT Professor to Develop Artificial Leaf for Hydrogen

The Tata Group out of India and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor of chemistry Daniel Nocera have signed a deal to develop a commercial version of the artificial leaf to produce hydrogen from sunlight and water.

In April 2010, I had talked about the MIT invention to use a solar panel and the M13 virus to split water and run the hydrogen and oxygen through a fuel cell to create power. The solar panel is the size of a poker card and will help the device, (about the size of a water cooler) to create power for homes in developing nations.

According to ACS, “The device bears no resemblance to Mother Nature’s counterparts on oaks, maples and other green plants, which scientists have used as the model for their efforts to develop this new genre of solar cells. About the shape of a poker card but thinner, the device is fashioned from silicon, electronics and catalysts, substances that accelerate chemical reactions that otherwise would not occur, or would run slowly. Placed in a single gallon of water in a bright sunlight, the device could produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country with electricity for a day, Nocera said. It does so by splitting water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen.

“The hydrogen and oxygen gases would be stored in a fuel cell, which uses those two materials to produce electricity, located either on top of the house or beside it.”

If the device works as billed however, one can also see this artificial photosynthesis device (or one like it) being used as a home hydrogen fueling station. Many times research that happens in a lab is not commercialized for many reasons. This is why this artificial photosynthesis machine is so important and exciting.

MIT plus the company producing the TATA Nano minicar (billed as the world’s cheapest car) is developing a machine to produce hydrogen cheaply and sustainably using only sunlight and water. My mouth is watering right now at the possibilities.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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8 comments

  1. This is an amazing development. Few are likely to even realize how monumental this actually is. It’s among the first in a series of advances that may one day lead to colonization in outerspace

  2. Yes soon we will all be turning over a new ‘leaf’ and getting rid of our crude oil burning ‘chitty chitty bang bangs’ and replacing them with clean green sophisticated hydrogen fuel cell super cars.
    Mike Halpin. founder HYDROGENHEADS

  3. Today morning i red the news about the Artificial Leaf in Eenadu New paper. Indian company Tata & MIT works together to improve the technology it will be very useful to both of our countries and also to the world.

  4. It is quite interesting to read the artificial leaf and its role play in giving power to households.

    The above innovation goes a long way in mitigating the difficulties of common man , especially, when the world is at power crisis.

    I wish this should artificial leaf should go into commercial production and available to all latest by end of this year, i.e., December 2011.

    s venkataraman

  5. Simply BREATHTAKING !!!!! This will revolutionize hydrogen technology.

  6. it might be interesting to note that the way to produce a vast ammount of hydrogen has been pattended by an american and its not by using sunlight or wind that takes forever but through a chemical reaction that is instantanious.through a chemical extraction we are able to produce as much as is needed when you need it.trying to wrangel more than 10,000 p.s.i. into a container of any sort is dangerus and you are essentialy creating a bomb.we can create hydrogen at 350,000 p.s.i. and at temperatures exceeding 5,500 d.e.g. and transport it safely in a shotgun size cartrage and use it when you need it saving the need to store it under pressure.check out [aeci.us.com] it will enlighten you to what is possible now.with gas climbing higher and higher it is now finally cost effective to produce hydrogen in the manner described.hydrogen has the potential to take over energy production entirely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Who is aeci.us.com ?
    Not one of the web addresses is active and notice is posted that it is a fraudulent site. Any body know what’s what.

  8. admin

    I don’t see a link to the website you are referring to on this article, do you? I’ve visited that link directly and don’t have a problem with it.

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