02 Apr '12, 6pm

How butterflies are teaching scientists about better renewable fuels

How butterflies are teaching scientists about better renewable fuels

What do the latest hydrogen fuel production technology and your tramp stamp have in common? They both take inspiration from butterfly wings . Hydrogen fuel could be the ultimate renewable — it’s a clean-burning fuel made from sunlight and water, and it doesn’t get much greener than that. But to be practical, it requires really efficient solar power (the solar energy is used to split water molecules to produce the fuel). Researcher Tongxiang Fan and his team think they’ve developed a solar collector that will more than double the speed of hydrogen gas production, and they did it by looking at pretty butterflies. See, the black part of butterfly wings are amazingly good at absorbing light without reflecting it. It’s like, how much more black could you be? And the answer is none. None more black. As Fan and his team discovered, this absorption power comes down to the structur...

Full article: http://grist.org/list/how-butterflies-are-teaching-scient...

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