Bionic leaf converts sunlight and water into Fuel.

Liquid fuel can now be gotten using the earth’s most abundant resources; sunlight and water. A researcher from Havard named Daniel Nocera, who conducted a research in the past on developing a bionic leaf, has now come up with a process by which water is broken down to hydrogen using solar energy to produces isopropyl alcohol after being consumed by bacteria.

Prior to this development, nickel-molybdenum was used as catalyst to split the water during the previous research, but this created a reactive oxygen species which attacked the bacteria, it could by prevented only if higher voltages was used.

Colbalt-phosphorus alloy if used instead will not bring about this oxygen species, plus it doesn’t leach into the solution because of its ability to self-heal and for this reason, the bionic leaf functions effectively.

We designed a new cobalt-phosphorus alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make reactive oxygen species. That allowed us to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in efficiency.

David Nocera

Thanks to this catalyst isobutanol, PBH – a bio plastic precursor and isopentanol are now also created. Although there may be room additional increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective enough to consider possible commercial applications.


A fuel is any material that can be made to react so that it releases chemical or nuclear energy as heat or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has since also been applied to other sources of heat energy such as nuclear energy (via nuclear fission or nuclear fusion). The Fire Triangle clearly represents what a fire needs to burn – an oxidising substance (usually oxygen), heat and a fuel.

The heat energy released by reactions of fuels is converted into mechanical energy via a heat engine. Other times the heat itself is valued for warmth, cooking, or industrial processes, as well as the illumination that comes with combustion



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