Synthetic Leaf Produces Oxygen, Encourages Space Vacation


Gone are the days when going to outer space for a vacation was only a dream. The new oxygen producing synthetic leaf might make your special holiday a reality.  Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has claimed to make a silk leaf that breathes out oxygen, just like our real leaves do. But how is this possible?

What the leaf is made of and how it works 

Synthetic Leaf Produce Oxygen, Might Make aspace Vacay Possible
via https://www.julianmelchiorri.com

The synthetic leaf was made in collaboration with the silk lab from Tufts University. It is a matrix of proteins extracted from silk, and chloroplasts. For bio dummies, chloroplasts make photosynthesis possible, which is the very mechanism that gives us oxygen. The synthetic leaf performs faux photosynthesis when exposed to light and water. This means it gives out oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. 

The otherworldly use of the synthetic leaf

Because the leaves are low-energy consuming and lightweight, they make a great option for space travel. Julian explained that NASA had been looking for new ways to make and sustain oxygen for space journeys. The new leaf could make it possible for humans to go farther into space than they have till now.  He adds that, because trees can’t grow in space, faux leaves will work greatly for habilitation on other planets and celestial bodies. 

Loopholes?

Synthetic Leaf Produce Oxygen, Might Make aspace Vacay Possible
via https://www.julianmelchiorri.com

The idea sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? A fake leaf that helps us breathe in space and maybe settle down there. But how possible is it?

If you have studied chemistry, or biology for that matter, you remember:

6CO2 + 6H2O + –(Sunlight Energy)–> C6H12O6 + 6O2

Silk leaves lack vacuoles, roots and stems that are used for food(sugar) storage in real leaves and plants. While the leaf can account for carbon dioxide, water and sunlight input, and oxygen output, where the sugarC6H12O) will go is a lingering question. 

The silk leaf working process might not have been framed(or explained) well, but the mere possibility of a lightweight faux leaf that acts as a real one is stunning. Not only can it be used for space travel and settlement, it can purify the air here for those of us who like earth. 

But till our doubts are solved, we recommend planting real trees. 🙂

If you liked reading about this innovation, you’ll like how scientists are using human hair to strengthen solar cells.


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