Published in collaboration with NCMS
Digital Manufacturing Report

News & information about the fast-moving world
of digital manufacturing, modeling & simulation

Language Flags

Artificial Leaves: The Power Plants of the Future

Earlier this year, MIT professor Daniel Nocera announced that he’d developed an artificial leaf with ten times the photosynthetic prowess of the real thing. Left to float in a pool of water, the leaf uses sunlight to break its host puddle down into hydrogen and oxygen, which are then stored in a fuel cell, ready to produce electricity. Nocera claims that just a single gallon of water could power a home in a developing country for a full day.

The concept of mimicking nature has been around for a long time, and it’s desirable for many reasons. Nature is a lot more efficient than we tend to be – where we cut and melt to build things, nature’s all about additive manufacturing. Where we burn finite, dirty substances to generate electricity, nature parked a giant flaming thermonuclear reactor less than a hundred million miles away and gets all its power from that. Plus, nature tends to look nicer out your window than, say, a cellphone tower or a smokestack.

While Nocera’s leaf is, conceptually, scarcely more than a bud, it does sort of call to the imagination, doesn’t it? What if the power plant of the future were a forest of artificial leaves, slurping in sunlight, breaking down water, and storing the components away in fuel cells nestled in the trunks of artificial trees? One day soon kids might go to play not in the park, but at the generator substation – and never know the difference between the two.

Indian corporation Tata has already signed on with Nocera to build a prototype power plant using the artificial leaf, which is made of cheap and readily available materials and likely to grow in efficiency as the design is further perfected.   

RSS Feeds

Subscribe to All Content

Feature Articles

Titan Puts a New Spin on GE’s Wind Turbine Research

Unlike traditional energy sources, wind is a trouble to tame, which has led GE to turn to advanced simulations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to put the technology on track to cover 12 percent of the world's energy production.

Lighting a Fire Under Combustion Simulation

Combustion simulation might seem like the ultimate in esoteric technologies, but auto companies, aircraft firms and fuel designers need increasingly sophisticated software to serve the needs of 21st century engine designs. HPCwire recently got the opportunity to take a look at Reaction Design, one of the premier makers of combustion simulation software, and talk with its CEO, Bernie Rosenthal.

D-Wave Sells First Quantum Computer

On Wednesday, D-Wave Systems made history by announcing the sale of the world's first commercial quantum computer. The buyer was Lockheed Martin Corporation, who will use the machine to help solve some of their "most challenging computation problems." D-Wave co-founder and CTO Geordie Rose talks about the new system and the underlying technology.

Short Takes

Local Motors and ORNL Partner for Automotive Manufacturing

Jan 24, 2014 | Local Motors, a vehicle innovator, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced a new partnership that they hope will bring change to the automotive industry.

Robots Showcase Skills at DRC

Jan 22, 2014 | A month ago, the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials (DRC) commenced. The main goal of the event was to aid in the development of robots that will someday respond to natural or even man-made disasters. At this year’s DRC, prototype robots from 16 teams were put through a series of trials in which they were to showcase their skills.

Advanced Modeling Benefits Wind Farms

May 25, 2011 | Advanced computing resources optimize the site selection of wind farms.

Not Your Parents' CFD

Oct 13, 2010 | Outdated beliefs stand in the way of greater CFD adoption.

Manufacturers Turn to HPC to Cut Testing Costs

Oct 06, 2010 | Supercomputing saves money by reducing the need for physical testing.

Sponsored Whitepapers

Technical Computing for a New Era

07/30/2013 | IBM | This white paper examines various means of adapting technical computing tools to accelerate product and services innovation across a range of commercial industries such as manufacturing, financial services, energy, healthcare, entertainment and retail. No longer is technically advanced computing limited to the confines of big government labs and academic centers. Today it is available to a wide range of organizations seeking a competitive edge.

The UberCloud HPC Experiment: Compendium of Case Studies

06/25/2013 | Intel | The UberCloud HPC Experiment has achieved the volunteer participation of 500 organizations and individuals from 48 countries with the aim of exploring the end-to-end process employed by digital manufacturing engineers to access and use remote computing resources in HPC centers and in the cloud. This Compendium of 25 case studies is an invaluable resource for engineers, managers and executives who believe in the strategic importance of applying advanced technologies to help drive their organization’s productivity to perceptible new levels.

Conferences and Events

Featured Events

Copyright © 2011-2014 Tabor Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Digital Manufacturing Report is a registered trademark of Tabor Communications, Inc. Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Tabor Communications Inc. is prohibited.
Powered by Xtenit.