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European Innovation Council

A-LEAF: An artificial leaf mimicking the process of photosynthesis

A school board with the photosynthesis scheme

Photosynthesis is a process that fuels life on our planet. It allows green plants to transforms water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy-rich carbohydrates using exclusively the energy from sun. Could we mimic the process?

The EIC funded A-LEAF project developed a concept for a photo-electro-catalytic cell able to directly convert water and carbon dioxide into fuels, chemicals and oxygen - using exclusively solar energy.

Although solar cells have reached very good efficiencies in the transformation of sun irradiation into electricity at reasonable prices, transport and storage persist being the two major issues.

Fuels, on the other hand, do not suffer any energy loss while being transported or stored, which is one of the reasons why is so difficult to replace them.

The novel solution developed by the A-LEAF project lies in the direct transformation of sunlight into chemicals - exactly the same way as green plants and algae in nature are using photosynthesis.

As such, the project seeked to respond to the world's challenge of finding new sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel and also help reduce the carbon dioxide amount in the atmosphere.

They stated:

Our dream is to obtain economic sustainable fuels and chemicals. Fuels from sunlight, water and atmospheric CO2. Exclusively using carbon, silicon, iron, or copper. A-LEAF is working hard to make our dream come true


See the A-LEAF project in the EIC datahub