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Hydrogen Produced by Mimicking Photosynthesis


MIT researchers found out a way to create energy by mimicking the photosynthesis process that green plants acquire their energy from. Prof. Daniel G. Nocera and former MIT graduate student Alan F. Heyduk invented a hydrogen-producing compound. They also use a catalyst and small amounts of light.

The process is referred to by some as photosynthesis in a beaker. It could provide a cheap, clean future energy source (in addition to the many hydrogen producing methods available). It essentially creates a molecule to replace a leaf. Nocera explains, “our strategy is to use the energy of sunlight to drive reactants uphill to energy-rich products, thus harnessing the sun’s energy to create a renewable energy source in the future.”

“In the leaf, sugar and oxygen are energy-rich products. In our beaker, the sought-after fuels are hydrogen and a halogen, produced catalytically from the photochemical splitting of hydrohalic acid,” Nocera said.

It is known that photosynthesis is the powering phenomenta behind green plants’ life. It is also known that photosynthesis is not the most efficient way to produce energy, but summed in a plant’s lifetime, the Sun’s energetic effect is basically collected in the plant’s body (producing energy again when you burn it – that energy comes from the Sun, too, indirectly).

It would be nice to mimic plants like we mimic birds to fly. But will this happen in a useful time, before it’s not too late?


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