Wednesday, August 13, 2008

mit: new way to store solar energy

Chemistry professor Daniel Nocera's recent discovery is a highly efficient process for storing solar energy. At MIT, Professor Nocera and his colleage Kanan have efficiently split water to hydrogen and oxygen with a catalyst. When you recombine them in a fuel cell, you can power anything. This means we can seriously thing about solar power as an unlimited power source soon.

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity - whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

Please do watch the video!

photo donna coveney
via Luminous Life

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