Synthetic photosynthesis has been around for more than a decade. Early versions were costly and short-lived, which made them impractical for any real-world application. Now, an MIT research team has developed a method of artificial photosynthesis to create and store energy, with 10 times the efficiency of plant photosynthesis.
The process is similar to plant-photosynthesis, but while plants store energy as sugars, this process uses the elemental hydrogen and oxygen as stored fuel. This makes it possible to have a solar power system that works beyond just the times when the sun is shining. As the inventor, Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT says of the process, "Sunlight plus water equals fuel." Instead of trying to directly generate electric power, as with solar cells, this technology breaks down water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be stored until needed and then be fed back into a fuel cell to produce electricity when it is needed.
The components needed for the catalysts used in this process are also abundantly available and inexpensive, nickel and cobalt, rather than relying on costly and difficult-to-obtain exotic minerals, which should also help with the scaling of the technology to commercial production levels. The process is simple enough that it can be done in a glass of water at room temperature which also helps simplify development.
Having a distributed and widely available source of hydrogen production could also help in advancing a hydrogen energy infrastructure and in making hydrogen powered vehicles a more reasonable transportation solution for the future.
link: Sun Catalytix
via: Geek.com (no relationship to EcoGeek)
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