Newly-created artificial leaves are made from simple ingredients and have the potential to reduce levels of carbon dioxide in atmosphere
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to this world, and scientists struggle to find the right mechanism and stop the process before it’s too late. The ice cover is melting, causing a dangerous increase in global temperatures. Climate changes may cause greater damage than any other catastrophe. The most recent invention brings us artificial leaves that look and function like real leaves.
Plants and trees have an important role in nature. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, giving us clean and fresh air.
Sadly, deforestation has led to an environmental crisis. We need to plant more trees to protect our health and the planet in general. Planet Earth is screaming for help. First, we need to strengthen the root system, and second, we need to boost the photosynthesis process.
Experts have come up with an incredible idea!
The artificial leaf
“We call it an artificial leaf because it mimics real leaves and the process of photosynthesis,” explained Yimin Wu, the lead research engineer at the University of Waterloo. “A leaf produces glucose and oxygen. We produce methanol and oxygen.”
Wu is a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering and an honored member of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.
The artificial leave uses cuprous oxide to remove carbon dioxide from the air. It’s a simple combo of glucose, copper acetate, sodium hydroxide, and sodium dodecyl sulfate. Experts add these to water and heat up the mixture to a particular temperature. That’s how they make cuprous oxide.
Cuprous oxide is used in the next stage. It acts as a catalyst and experts combine it with carbon dioxide and a beam of light. This provides a synthetic photosynthesis process. It mimics the naturally occurring photosynthesis in plants and also makes for an excellent substitute for fossil fuels.
In the next stage, the artificial leaf has to be patented and scaled up to commercial-grade use. This chemical process is of great importance in the fight against pollution. If used in every country in the world, these leaves can even reduce the negative impact of climate change.
Professor Wu is confident about the success of this invention. According to him, we are going in the right direction.
“I’m extremely excited about the potential of this discovery to change the game,” explains Professor Wu. “Climate change is an urgent problem and we can help reduce CO2 emissions while also creating an alternative fuel.”