"Julian Melchiorri designed an artificial biological leaf capable of producing oxygen like its natural “cousins”. The project is called Silk Leaf. The artificial leaves are composed mainly of silk proteins and chloroplasts (a type of organelle present in plant cells and eukaryotic algae). Due to the photosynthetic capabilities of chloroplasts, Silk Leaf absorbs CO2 and produces oxygen, chemicals and sugars that can be used as an energy source. For its operation, the artificial leaf needs only sunlight and water."
" ... in the absence of gravity, it is not possible to grow plants, this leads to major problems for the supply of oxygen.
Instead of cylinders and tanks full of 02, space stations could be “filled” with artificial leaves capable of autonomously producing the oxygen that astronauts need to breathe and survive.
Julian Melchiorri’s is only an idea that will need many tests and experiments before being implemented. The first data, however, are encouraging: some experiments conducted by the engineer have shown that a single artificial Silk Leaf can produce fair amounts of oxygen. The level of production could also be optimized thanks to nano-bionic interventions on chloroplasts present in the artificial leaves. Melchiorri is working on this aspect: the goal is to bring green oxygen generators into space as soon as possible."
"Each artificial leaf has two light absorbers – similar to the molecules that collect sunlight in plants – combined with a catalyst made of cobalt. When the device is immersed in water, one light absorber uses the catalyst to produce oxygen, while the other performs the chemical reaction that converts carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In this way, the artificial leaves can produce the Syngas gas without releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So without polluting the environment. The discovery that comes from Cambridge could mark an epoch-making step forward in the search for energy sources with low environmental impact. "