Artificial Leaf Could Be The Next Oxygen Source For Space Travel
Gabriel Roşu / 6 years ago
The main problem faced when talking about sustainability in space travel missions is the lack of oxygen. Due to this, many space-related missions executed so far are close to our planet, since nobody can make a rocket packed with oxygen and expect it to last an eternity.
However, a graduate from the Royal College of Art by the name of Julian Melchiorri has apparently found a solution to the problem at hand. He appears to have created the first man-made, biologically functional leaf which works on carbon dioxide, water and light in order to produce oxygen.
The leaf is said to be made out of chloroplasts, the cell part found in plants to help with photosynthesis, packed in a body made out of silk protein. Taking into account that this is a plant made by human hand, it is absolutely amazing to have somethings such ingenuity providing support for the most basic need in space, namely air.
“This material has an amazing property of stabilizing (the chloroplast) organelles,” Melchiorri says. “As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does.”
Besides its use in space-related missions, Melchiorri imagines that his invention could be used in the normal household as well. Who wouldn’t mind a breath of fresh air in the morning while sipping a nice warm coffee or tea? Building facades and lampshades could be fitted, according to Melchiorri, with the given technology in order to exhale fresh air with just a thin coating of the leaf material.
The idea is said not to stop at helping space travelers with oxygen. Melchiorri states that his revolutionary technology could also be the key to space colonization. Instead of attempting to grow Earth-like vegetation on Mars for example, these artificial leaves can be fitted inside a dome and provide the breath of fresh air needed by the crew to survive.