'Space-ious' Igloo Home On Mars; Hydrogen Fuel From Fake Leaves

In this episode of Manufacturing Minute, using an artificial leaf to harvest hydrogen fuel and what happens after we land on Mars.

From Artificial Leaves To Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, like plug-in electric cars, offer drivers the possibility of traveling long distances without emitting greenhouse gas.

But unlike their electrified cousins, cars equipped with fuel cells can be refueled as quickly as those powered by conventional gasoline engines. 

The hydrogen fuel combines with oxygen in the air to power the car while emitting only water, but establishing a reliable source of hydrogen fuel isn't easy -- which hindered the adoption of fuel cells in most countries.

One of the countries to embrace the system, however, is South Korea, and scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology believe a newly developed artificial leaf could take the fuel cell worldwide.

Their system mimicked the photosynthesis of aquatic plants, which must rely on solar wavelengths that are able to penetrate deep underwater.

Researchers said the artificial leaf allows for extended harvesting of light, whose energy can be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The hydrogen can then be used as a stable source of vehicle fuel. 

Engineers set a goal of developing 10 percent enhanced light harvesting efficiency within three years' time.


Could this help hydrogen-powered vehicles catch on with car buyers worldwide? How could this impact the conventional auto industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Mars Or Bust

Getting to Mars is becoming something of a 21st century space race. And with billionaires like SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos vying to be the first to get there (not to mention NASA, Boeing and the likes) the focus has almost exclusively been on how and how fast we can get humans on the Red Planet.

And while that’s obviously the first step, there’s been a lot less chatter about what happens if and when we get to Mars. You know, like how to survive, what to eat, where to live, etc.

But now NASA’s Langley Center has unveiled a new concept for a shelter that researchers think could actually work. That’s in part because this design is made from Mars’ most abundant resource — water.

NASA’s Ice Home is exactly what it sounds like; namely, a gigantic igloo. But this Martian igloo features an inflatable outer shell that can store water in pockets that can then act as a shield for cosmic rays. The design is doubly practical because its lightweight, which means it will be easier to carry and move around with the aid of basic robotics.

Another benefit is that this Ice Home is entirely translucent. Daylight can pass in and out, so that the inhabitants won’t feel like they’re living in a cave.

This project is still in its conceptual stages, but it does reveal that the idea of humans not only getting to Mars but also staying there for long periods of time might not be as far away as we think.

What do you think about the design for NASA’s Ice Home? Do you think the project is practical, or should the focus instead be on the technology needed to transport humans to the Red Planet.

Tweet me your thoughts @MnetNews or leave your comments in the section below.

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