The Great Leaf Forward

A great leap forward has been made by researchers at Florida State University – efficient artificial photosynthesis. In their article published recently in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Kevin P Lucht and Jose L.Medoza-Cortes describe a process of artificial photosynthesis using a layer of manganese oxide (also known as birnessite). The birnessite breaks down water (H2o) into hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O2).


Oxygen is of course important for our survival but hydrogen too is useful, as a source of energy. There are already a handful of cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, Hyundi and Toyota have recently announced their intention to bring cars running on this technology to the mass market in 2016 and the fuel cells can be used to power anything electrical.

The process will enable hydrogen energy to be gleaned from rainwater with only a single layer of material, the process is much more efficient than any similar ideas developed previously. It’s a carbon neutral system so could go a long way to help reduce our emissions, “Perhaps in the future, you could put this material on your roof and it could turn rain water into energy with the help of the sun.” (Mendozo-Cortes).

Written by TreeThinker

Passionate about the Earth and those who inhabit it. An engineer (BEng (Hons), MSEE) from Oxfordshire, UK, specialising in designing for a sustainable future. A member of the Society of Environmental Engineers and a keen environmental advocate who volunteers for several grass roots sustainability groups. I work full time as a project manager for a renewable energy company based in Oxford and also run ‘TreeThinker’ (; converting previous pasture land into a rich permaculture farm growing produce for sale locally. I deliver workshops on sustainable living, including building renewable energy technologies, as well as workshops for schools discussing 'Energy as a resource' amongst other topics. I am qualified in ‘Information, advice and guidance’ (level 4) and experienced at teaching practical skills. I'm also a keen cyclist and have a love of wordplay - writing a blog on etymology (

One comment

  1. The efficiency rating is skewed because the rating does not take into account the additional energy the product produces. I would say the rating is more like 25 or 30 percent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s