Nano-machines do photosynthesis better than leaves

What started as a bold project at Imperial College London in 2009, has now reached its first stage of commercialization in the deserts of north Africa.

Photosynthesis, it is said, is evolution’s most valuable result. The intricate chemistry involved in plants is the source of almost all energy that fuels living things on the planet. Plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugar. Imperial College scientists believed they could mimic the process using nano-science to provide almost limitless power.

The launch of the first pilot ‘living’ nano power station in the Moroccan desert was hailed as the start of “a new world of energy abundance” by local EU dignitaries. It is claimed that just using just one-tenth of a percent of the Earth’s surface will make us completely independent of fossil fuels.

The novel technology is an unabashed pirated copy of nature’s design of photosynthesis, using an ‘artificial leaf’ as the basic building block, each one no bigger than a grain of sand.

This combination of bio- and nano-tech is totally scalable and behaves just like a natural system. It mimics the water-splitting reaction to create a clean and limitless source of hydrogen. Unlike normal leaves, this process does not suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

“In future we believe we will be able to program these ‘artificial leaves’ to self-replicate and create a limitless production line of energy sources,” said Ben Durrant of Leaf Industries. “The current world demand is for around 20 terawatts of energy – we’ll be able to provide that within eight to ten years.”

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