Biomimicry of leaves ventricular system produces energy
In this article we’re going to write about biomimicry of leaves. The development of artificial glass leaves that produce energy is done by UC Berkeley researcher Michel Maharbiz (a guy we mentioned earlier in our article about insects spies), Ruba Borno from the University of Michigan and Joseph Steinmeyer from MIT. They developed an alternative energy system based on transpiration, a natural process where trees pull water from roots to tops, with liquid eventually evaporating off of the leaves. The system relies on artificial glass leaves used to generate a steady stream of energy.
Inspired by the transport of water in plants, the synthetic leaves are essentially energy scavengers, which produce power from the flow of water made due to vaporization. Leaves are crafted from glass wafers containing a series of small water-filled channels. Fluid flows through the channels until it reaches the edge of the leaf, where it then evaporates. The actual power production takes place in the leaf’s central stem walls, which are lined with metal plates connected to a circuit.
The charged metal plates separated by a layer of water form a capacitor. Water flowing through the leaf is periodically interrupted by small air bubbles. Air and water have different electrical properties so electric current is generated every time an air bubble passes through the plates.
Although the electricity produced is a relatively small amount when compared to power produced by fuel cells and batteries, Maharbiz asserts that the glass leaves are actually quite effective for this type of energy-scavenging system. Researchers are currently working on modifications to optimize the amount of power the leaves can produce.
Eventually, leaves could be implemented into whole artificial trees. Maharbiz expects the trees to act as a complementary technology to other solar harnesing technologies, where sunlight could power panels and help drive transpiration in trees. With any luck, solar panels and artificial power producing trees will be a new esthetic and environmental mean of energy production.