Green plants, trees and their leaves remove noxious carbon dioxide from the air during a process known as Photosynthesis. This is why we are all so upset about the ruination of the rain forests, which act as natural air cleaners in volume due to the density of vegetation.
But planting new trees in a deforested area takes time – years. The earth’s atmosphere needs a more immediate solution. This is why researchers at Berkeley Labs in California are working on recreating the photosynthesis process – and are half way there as they have been able to duplicate the first step – breaking up water molecules by using photons found in sunlight. Nano sized crystals of Cobalt Oxide – a photo reactive metal oxide catalyst, have been found to do the job more efficiently than Mother Nature herself!
The next step in the process is integrating the water splitting process with another photon powered process that combines the hydrogen and oxygen with Co2. This means that in effect, scientists are working on creating artificial leaves – not the kind found in home decorating stores, but leaves that are actually working as little Co2 conversion factories like their living counterparts.
This scientific breakthrough can not only help keep the atmosphere clean, but also present an entirely new source of green, renewable energy in the form of a new solar cell.