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Artificial photosynthesis
Artificial photosynthesis
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Artificial photosynthesis



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introduction to photosynthesis, artificial photosynthesis, history, photolytic cell, how does AP work, artificial leaf, applications, pros and cons of the technology.

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Artificial photosynthesis

  2. 2. What is Photosynthesis? Photosynthesis is the process by which plants and other things make food. It is a chemical process that uses sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into sugars the cell can use as energy. Photosynthesis maintains atmospheric oxygen levels and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.
  3. 3. Artificial Photosynthesis  Artificial Photosynthesis is a chemical process that replicates the natural process of photosynthesis, a process that converts sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen.  The term is commonly used to refer to any scheme for capturing and storing the energy from sunlight in the chemical bonds of a fuel (a solar fuel).  Photocatalytic Water Splitting, converts water into Hydrogen Ions and oxygen, and is a main research area in artificial photosynthesis.
  4. 4. History  Visible light water splitting with a one piece multijunction cell was first demonstrated and patented by William Ayers at Energy Conversion Devices in 1983.  This group demonstrated water photolysis into hydrogen and oxygen, now referred to as an "artificial leaf” with a low cost, thin film amorphous silicon multijunction cell directly immersed in water.  Hydrogen evolved on the front amorphous silicon surface decorated with various catalysts while oxygen evolved off the back metal substrate, which also eliminated the problem of mixed hydrogen/oxygen gas evolution.
  5. 5. A sample of a photoelectric cell in a lab environment. Catalysts are added to the cell, which is submerged in water and illuminated by simulated sunlight. The bubbles seen are oxygen (forming on the front of the cell) and hydrogen (forming on the back of the cell).
  6. 6. How it works!  To recreate the photosynthesis that plants have perfected, an energy conversion system has to be able to do two crucial things: harvest sunlight and split water molecules.  Plants accomplish these tasks using chlorophyll, which captures sunlight, and a collection of proteins and enzymes that use that sunlight to break down H2O molecules into hydrogen, electrons and oxygen (protons).  For an artificial system to work for human needs, the output has to change. Instead of releasing only oxygen at the end of the reaction, it would have to release liquid hydrogen (or perhaps methanol) as well. That hydrogen could be used directly as liquid fuel or channeled into a fuel cell.
  7. 7.  Getting the process to produce hydrogen is not a problem, since it's already there in the water molecules. And capturing sunlight is not a problem, current solar-power systems do that.  The hard part is splitting the water molecules to get the electrons necessary to facilitate the chemical process that produces the hydrogen.  Splitting water requires an energy input of about 2.5 volts. This means the process requires a catalyst -- something to get the whole thing moving. The catalyst reacts with the sun's photons to initiate a chemical reaction.
  8. 8. The Solution:- Catalyst  Manganese: Manganese is the catalyst found in the photosynthetic core of plants. A single atom of manganese triggers the natural process that uses sunlight to split water. Using manganese in an artificial system is a biomimetric approach -- it directly mimics the biology found in plants.  Cobalt oxide: One of the more recently discovered catalysts, clusters of nano-sized cobalt-oxide molecules (CoO) have been found to be stable and highly efficient triggers in an artificial photosynthesis system. Cobalt oxide is also a very abundant molecule -- it's currently a popular industrial catalyst.
  9. 9. The Artificial Leaf
  10. 10.  The artificial leaf consist of two connected semiconducting electrodes placed in water. The electrodes absorb light and use the energy to split the water into its basic components, oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored as fuel.
  11. 11. Applications /Advantages  Fossil fuels are in short supply, and they're contributing to pollution and global warming. Artificial photosynthesis could offer a new, possibly ideal way out of our energy predicament.  It has benefits over photovoltaic cells, found in today's solar panels. The direct conversion of sunlight to electricity in photovoltaic cells makes solar power a weather- and time-dependent energy, which decreases its utility and increases its price. Artificial photosynthesis, on the other hand, could produce a storable fuel.
  12. 12.  Unlike most methods of generating alternative energy, Artificial photosynthesis has the potential to produce more than one type of fuel.  Artificial Photosynthesis produces a clean fuel without generating any harmful by-products, like greenhouse gasses and makes it an ideal energy source for the environment.
  13. 13. The Hiccups  The manganese that acts as a catalyst in plants doesn't work as well in a man-made setup, mostly because manganese is somewhat unstable.  The other big obstacle is that the molecular geometry in plants is extraordinarily complex and exact -- most man-made setups can't replicate that level of intricacy.  One of the major disadvantages of the artificial photosynthesis today is the fact that materials used often corrode in water, as most hydrogen catalysts are very sensitive to oxygen, being inactivated or degraded in its presence.