Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Invention of the Leaf

People are always looking for new ways to collect fuel. It is being used more and more, and it is hard to imagine a world without it. Even though fuel is something you as a person probably use very frequently, it is not prone to the main theme of macroeconomics: scarcity. Almost everything is valued upon how scarce it is. Gold is very scarce, so it is valued very highly. Silver is a little less scarce, so it is valued below gold but above bronze. Fuel is something valued because of its necessity to everyday life.
To help with this problem, Harvard students looked into the Bionic Leaf. It was previously meddled with, but it was not up to its full potential. The original model previously created took water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Microbes in the system then used the hydrogen to turn CO2 into alcohol that can in turn be burned as fuel. The students added a new catalyst found between cobalt and phosphorus and improved the system by 10%. Not only does this help with the scarcity of fuel, but it can also help eliminate the amount of CO2 in the environment [1].
This article reminded me of the photosynthesis unit in biology. Alcohol is a big part of fuel, as it is the main reason of ethanol formation. I do question the final product, and how it will fit into cities and towns. I also wonder how expensive it will be. The article stated that it was good for communities that "lack access to modern technologies." Could this be too expensive for them? Overall, it seems like a wonderful idea that could help many people worldwide.

Works Cited:
[1] D. Biello. (2016, August 1). New "Bionic" Leaf is Roughly Ten Times More Efficient Than Natural Photosynthesis. [Online]. Available:


  1. Based off of what you said in your article about how scarce fuel is and how much it is needed made me think more about how we use our resources. When things are scarce people tend to find alternative sources for what they need like the the bionic leaf for example. You hear more and more on how scientist are creating innovative things so there are more sources of power readily available.

  2. I didn't even think about how expensive it would cost, or how many would be needed to fuel a town. This could be so helpful all over the world, so hopefully it is accessible to impoverished communities that need fuel.

  3. I agree with you that this invention could potentially help a lot of people! That was my units reaction when I read this. Assuming the Harvard team is successful is getting the cost to manufacture the leaf down, I don't see while it couldn't be brought to places that previously did not have power. While I do think it would require a refining process to turn the alcohol into directly usable fuel, that could create jobs in the places where the leaf would be used as well!! All in all I think this product has a ton of potential positive out comes that are waiting to be put to use in the real world.