Yes, this article seems little off the regular articles of my blog but I am and always will be disciple of science. A little science is also important in life. And it always good to bring a little variety.
As the title suggests, Artificial Leaf is not exactly an leaf producing glucose from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water but it generates energy is form of hydrogen by decomposing water in presence of sunlight. Now this process is quite old and people have been doing research for long time with different mechanism, different catalyst, different approaches. The major challenges in this domain has been the cost and efficiency of the catalyst, life of catalyst, up-scaling the process and efficient retrieval and storage of hydrogen. Most of the time the catalyst has very low efficiency which makes the process unfeasible for any large scale hydrogen production also the cost of the catalyst is unusually high. Second challenge associated was the deterioration of the catalyst which renders the catalyst unusable. The third major challenge which is still present even now is the up-scaling of the process from bench scale to pilot plant level to prototype and then final commercial product. To my understanding scientists are still struggling to take the process to pilot plant level. The fourth challenge of hydrogen storage and retrieval has been mostly sorted now but it is still a challenge considering the volatile, inflammable and dangerous nature of hydrogen. Other challenges which dependent on the process such as purity of the water being used, flow rate of water, other special requirement also served as hindrance for real progress to be made.
Imagine a house being powered by a bucket of water or a city having its power plant situated in size of a 50 yard swimming pool, such things may look impossible but humanity has moved closer to such reality even more and the work done by scientists of MIT and the news published on their website (Link Here ) is a example that we are not far away for true commercial artificial leaf. The scientists have been able to overcome most of the challenges in successful, continuous and up-scalable process which has to go through the process of testing and evaluation may be 10 years from now we may be driving a car having a a roof filled with water which will be powering the car.