First man-made biological Leaves

These Man-Made Leaves Could One Day Help Colonize Space

The artificial leaves converts water and light to oxygen, and that’s good news for road-tripping to places beyond Earth.

First-man-made-biological-leaves
Silk Leaf by Julian Melchiorri

One of the persistent challenges of manned space exploration is that pesky lack of oxygen throughout much of the universe. Here on Earth, trees and other plant life do us a real solid by taking in our bad breath and changing it back to clean, sweet O2.

The new material could provide a steady source of oxygen for humans on long missions in space and even help us colonize new planets.

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Julian Melchiorri, the man behind the process of producing fake leaves, says that they could be used for space exploration or space architecture, as NASA has been researching different ways to create oxygen. Real plants may not grow in zero gravity, but Melchiorri’s man-made leaf will thrive.

Julian Melchiorri claims that the leaves could also transform life on Earth as we know it, because buildings could be clad with the material to oxygenate homes and polluted urban areas.

man-made-biological-leaves
Visualisation of a photosynthetic facade by Julian Melchiorri

Mr Melchiorri claims that he has made the ‘first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does.’

But just like real leaves, the new material needs a small amount of fresh water and light to produce oxygen, which still needs to be discovered on planets for humans to call home.

Mr Melchiorri says that his material consumes very little energy and as a result he thinks it could be incorporated into modern buildings, to absorb carbon dioxide.

It could be used to clad facades, ventilation systems, he said. ‘You can absorb air from outside, pass it through these biological filters and then bring oxygenated air inside.’

The project was showcased as part of Dezeen and Mini Frontiers.

You can find out more about the project here.

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