Tag Archives for " sunlight "

Dutch scientists Develop Artificial Leaf To Manufacture Medicine

Dutch scientists have developed an artificial leaf that can act as a mini-factory for producing drugs, an advance that could allow medicines to be produced anywhere there is sunlight.The work taps into the ability of plants to use sunlight to feed themselves through photosynthesis, something industrial chemists have struggled to replicate because sunshine usually generates too little energy to fuel chemical reactions.

The leaf-inspired micro factory mimics nature’s efficiency at harvesting solar radiation by using new materials called luminescent solar concentrators with very thin channels through which liquid is pumped, exposing molecules to sunlight.

 “Theoretically, you could use this device to make drug compounds with solar energy anywhere you want,” said lead researcher Timothy Noel at Eindhoven University of Technology.By doing away with the need for a power grid, it may be possible one day to make malaria drugs in the jungle or even medicines on Mars in some future space colony, he believes.The device, made from silicone rubber, can operate even when there is diffuse light, which means it will work under cloudy skies. However, there is still a way to go to scale up the process to make it commercially viable.

Noel and his colleagues, who published their research in the science journal Angewandte Chemie on Wednesday, are now trying to improve energy efficiency further and increase output.Because the artificial leaf relies on micro-channels to bring chemicals into direct contact with sunlight, each unit needs to be small — but they could be easily linked together to increase production.

“You can make a whole tree with many, many different leaves placed in parallel,” Noel told Reuters. “These are very cheap things to make, so there is a lot of potential.”He thinks the process could start to become broadly available to chemical engineers within five to 10 years.It is not the first time that scientists have drawn inspiration from plants when considering novel ways to manufacture pharmaceuticals.

In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called Elelyso from Pfizer and Protalix Biotherapeutics for Gaucher disease, a rare genetic condition, made with genetically modified carrot cells.Other researchers are also cultivating crops that have been specially bred to produce useful medicines and vaccines in their leaves.

SOURCE…www.stltoday.com

Bionic leaf turns sunlight into liquid fuel | Harvard Gazette

 

The days of drilling into the ground in the search for fuel may be numbered, because if Daniel Nocera has his way, it’ll just be a matter of looking for sunny skies.Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, and Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, have co-created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels.

The paper, whose lead authors include postdoctoral fellow Chong Liu and graduate student Brendan Colón, is described in a June 3 paper published in Science.“This is a true artificial photosynthesis system,” Nocera said. “Before, people were using artificial photosynthesis for water-splitting, but this is a true A-to-Z system, and we’ve gone well over the efficiency of photosynthesis in nature.”

While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there, said Silver, who is also a founding core member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.The beauty of biology is it’s the world’s greatest chemist — biology can do chemistry we can’t do easily,” she said. “In principle, we have a platform that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule. So this has the potential to be incredibly versatile.”

Dubbed “bionic leaf 2.0,” the new system builds on previous work by Nocera, Silver, and others, which — though it was capable of using solar energy to make isopropanol — faced a number of challenges. Chief among those, Nocera said, was the fact that the catalyst used to produce hydrogen — a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy — also created reactive oxygen species, molecules that attacked and destroyed the bacteria’s DNA. To avoid that, researchers were forced to run the system at abnormally high voltages, resulting in reduced efficiency.

“For this paper, we designed a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make reactive oxygen species,” Nocera said. “That allowed us to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in efficiency.”The system can now convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, Nocera said, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants.

In addition to increasing the efficiency, Nocera and colleagues were able to expand the portfolio of the system to include isobutanol and isopentanol. Researchers also used the system to create PHB, a bio-plastic precursor, a process first demonstrated by Professor Anthony Sinskey of MIT.

The new catalyst also came with another advantage — its chemical design allows it to “self-heal,” meaning it wouldn’t leach material into solution.“This is the genius of Dan,” Silver said. “These catalysts are totally biologically compatible.”Though there may yet be room for additional increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective enough to consider possible commercial applications, but within a different model for technology translation.

“It’s an important discovery — it says we can do better than photosynthesis,” Nocera said. “But I also want to bring this technology to the developing world as well.”Working in conjunction with the First 100 Watts program at Harvard, which helped fund the research, Nocera hopes to continue developing the technology and its applications in nations like India with the help of their scientists.In many ways, Nocera said, the new system marks the fulfillment of the promise of his “artificial leaf,” which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

“If you think about it, photosynthesis is amazing,” he said. “It takes sunlight, water, and air — and then look at a tree. That’s exactly what we did, but we do it significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a fuel.”

SOURCE…news.harvard.edu/

Bionic leaf turns sunlight into liquid fuel | Harvard Gazette

 

The days of drilling into the ground in the search for fuel may be numbered, because if Daniel Nocera has his way, it’ll just be a matter of looking for sunny skies.Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, and Pamela Silver, the Elliott T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, have co-created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels.

The paper, whose lead authors include postdoctoral fellow Chong Liu and graduate student Brendan Colón, is described in a June 3 paper published in Science.“This is a true artificial photosynthesis system,” Nocera said. “Before, people were using artificial photosynthesis for water-splitting, but this is a true A-to-Z system, and we’ve gone well over the efficiency of photosynthesis in nature.”

While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there, said Silver, who is also a founding core member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.The beauty of biology is it’s the world’s greatest chemist — biology can do chemistry we can’t do easily,” she said. “In principle, we have a platform that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule. So this has the potential to be incredibly versatile.”

Dubbed “bionic leaf 2.0,” the new system builds on previous work by Nocera, Silver, and others, which — though it was capable of using solar energy to make isopropanol — faced a number of challenges. Chief among those, Nocera said, was the fact that the catalyst used to produce hydrogen — a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy — also created reactive oxygen species, molecules that attacked and destroyed the bacteria’s DNA. To avoid that, researchers were forced to run the system at abnormally high voltages, resulting in reduced efficiency.

“For this paper, we designed a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make reactive oxygen species,” Nocera said. “That allowed us to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in efficiency.”The system can now convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, Nocera said, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants.

In addition to increasing the efficiency, Nocera and colleagues were able to expand the portfolio of the system to include isobutanol and isopentanol. Researchers also used the system to create PHB, a bio-plastic precursor, a process first demonstrated by Professor Anthony Sinskey of MIT.

The new catalyst also came with another advantage — its chemical design allows it to “self-heal,” meaning it wouldn’t leach material into solution.“This is the genius of Dan,” Silver said. “These catalysts are totally biologically compatible.”Though there may yet be room for additional increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective enough to consider possible commercial applications, but within a different model for technology translation.

“It’s an important discovery — it says we can do better than photosynthesis,” Nocera said. “But I also want to bring this technology to the developing world as well.”Working in conjunction with the First 100 Watts program at Harvard, which helped fund the research, Nocera hopes to continue developing the technology and its applications in nations like India with the help of their scientists.In many ways, Nocera said, the new system marks the fulfillment of the promise of his “artificial leaf,” which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

“If you think about it, photosynthesis is amazing,” he said. “It takes sunlight, water, and air — and then look at a tree. That’s exactly what we did, but we do it significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a fuel.”

SOURCE…news.harvard.edu/

The Future Of Charging Your Phone Will Soon Be A Breeze

Has it ever happpened to you, that you just dont have enough juice in your phone durimg a critical moment in your day? Well, a new technology will soon save us from our self inflicted misery High-tech fabrics could soon allow you to charge your devices on the go simply by standing outside on a sunny, breezy day.Researchers have developed a ‘hybrid-power textile’ that generates electricity from both sunshine and motion, using a combination of solar cells and triboelectric nanogenerators.So far, a segment roughly the size of a sheet of office paper can create ‘significant power’ just from being held out a car window – and in the future, they say this technology could be integrated into tents, curtains, and even garments.

The researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology say this method could one day allow clothing to harvest energy to power smart phones and GPS.Their current design is just 320 micrometers thick, and is woven together with strands of wool.‘This hybrid power textile presents a novel solution to charging devices in the field from something as simple as the wind blowing on a sunny day,’ said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering.To create the material, the researchers constructed solar cells from lightweight polymer fibers and wove these in with fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators.These can generate electrical power from mechanical motion, including rotation, sliding, and vibration.

‘The backbone of the textile is made of commonly-used polymer materials that are inexpensive to make and environmentally friendly.‘The electrodes are also made through a low cost process, which makes it possible to use large-scale manufacturing. According to the team, just a 4 by 5 centimeter piece of the fabric can charge a 2mF commercial capacitor up to 2 volts in just one minute of sunlight and movement.And, on a cloudy day, the fabric was able to generate ‘significant power’ when blowing in the wind on a cloudy day.‘That indicates it has a decent capability of working even in a harsh environment,’ Wang said.So far, tests have shown the fabric will survive repeated and rigorous use, and the team is working to see just how durable it really is over longer periods of time.In the future, they plan to optimize its capabilities for industrial uses.

SOURCE…www.dailymail.co.uk