Meet Indian origin scientist Meenesh Singh and his student Aditya Prajapati.
They are among the scientists at the University of Chicago-based Illinois University who have created an artificial leaf that can produce 10 times more oxygen than natural leaves. Apart from this, 10 times more carbon monoxide can be produced for fuel. These leaves work in the same way, as the natural leaves who produce carbohydrate and oxygen through photosynthesis with solar energy, carbon dioxide and water.
The difference: This leaf needs pure compressed CO2.
This artificial leaf is being tested in the lab at the moment. Here it is given pure carbon dioxide under pressure. They can not be used outside, because they can not get clean and pressurized carbon dioxide.
These artificial leaves are being made just in the lab as fuel and oxygen.
Meenesh Singh described the method of working of these leaves. He said, “For these leaves, we created an artificial semi-permeable membrane, which makes the water to steam when the sun appears. When the water flows as a steam, the leaf itself will pulls carbon dioxide, after which artificial photosynthetic unit turns carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. The carbon monoxide can be used to make synthetic fuels while oxygen can be left out.”
Researchers have estimated that, 1.7 meters long and 0.2 meter wide 360 leaves will make half a ton of carbon monoxide a day which will be used to make synthetic fuel. They said that these leaves will cover the area of 500 square meters, as well as reduce the level of carbon dioxide to 10%.
The cost of R&D on this project is not yet known. Its commercial feasibility has not yet been tested. The global mission to get rid of CO2 is still based upon the various programmes on afforestation. Trees and more trees. This has to be cost effective and result oriented.