Washington: Scientists are making progress toward development of an ‘artificial leaf’ that mimics the process of photosynthesis, and converts sunlight and water into a liquid fuel such as methanol for cars and trucks.
That is among the conclusions in a newly-available report from top authorities on solar energy who met at the 1st Annual Chemical Sciences and Society Symposium.
The scientists pointed out during the meeting that plants use solar energy when they capture and convert sunlight into chemical fuel through photosynthesis.
The process involves the conversion of water and carbon dioxide into sugars as well as oxygen and hydrogen.
Scientists have been successful in mimicking this fuel-making process, termed artificial photosynthesis, but now must finds ways of doing so in ways that can be used commercially.
Participants described progress toward this goal and the scientific challenges that must be met before solar can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
According to Kazunari Domen, from the University of Tokyo in Japan, noted that the ultimate goal of artificial photosynthesis is to produce a liquid fuel, such as methanol, or “wood alcohol.”
Achieving this goal would fulfill the vision of creating an “artificial leaf” that not only splits water, but uses the reaction products to create a more usable fuel, similar to what leaves do.
First Published: Friday, November 6, 2009, 13:19