Harvard scientists found a way to make solar energy into liquid fuel

7:48 a.m. ET

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have successfully converted solar energy into liquid fuel. The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have a significant impact as humans continue working toward alternative forms of energy.

Science Daily explains that the scientists used electricity from photovaic cells to convert solar energy into hydrogen. The hydrogen is stored in fuel cells for later use.

The researchers created a “bionic leaf” that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. A bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha, then converts the hydrogen, along with carbon dioxide, into isopropanol, a liquid fuel. The scientists’ leaf is currently at a one percent efficiency rate for creating isopropanol, the same rate that occurs naturally when photosynthesis turns sunlight into biomass. They hope to eventually reach 5-percent efficiency with the bionic leaf.

In the past, hydrogen has “failed to catch on as a practical fuel for cars or power,” Science Daily notes. But creating liquid fuel from solar energy could advance hydrogen adoption. The scientists also hope the findings will spark a movement in creating energy locally, which they believe would be successful in the developing world. Meghan DeMaria



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Filed under Energy/Oil, Nature/Science/Technology

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