Scientists have designed and developed a new material that could help supply the world with clean energy by turning water into fuel, using just the power of the solar energy. Chemists at the University of Reading have developed a catalyst, which works similar to that of plants absorbing energy from sun and offering energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in the end.
This catalyst has the potential to produce hydrogen for fuel cells; the complex new material could also be used to turn carbon dioxide from the air into a carbon based fuel such as methanol.
Dr Ricardo Grau-Crespo is leading the team which made the discovery from the chemistry department of the University of Reading. This finding can lead to the answer for cheaper, environmentally friendly fuel required to power the future.
Generally speaking, if we go deep into technicality, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is energy intensive process, which currently requires much more energy in from electricity than comes out in usable fuel.
In order to make this process simple and efficient, the scientist at University of Reading have devised a photo catalyst material titanium oxide that absorbs light from the sun and uses it to excited electrons to higher energy levels. These excited electrons and the empty spaces which are left behind are then capable of driving forward the 2 half-reactions to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.
It is said that the scientists used supercomputer simulations to look at many different candidates as potential photo-catalysts for fuel production reactions.
In new research, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry, they found that some metal-organic frameworks, which combine metal atoms and organic molecules, exhibit the ideal electronic structure required to catalyze these reactions.
Now, the challenge is to incorporate these wonderful natural catalysts into materials capable of doing the specific chemical job we need.
If the scientists succeed in doing so, it could lead to highly-efficient conversion of solar energy to chemical energy which in-turn will provide a clean, storable and transferrable source of energy.
And if water can be turned into fuel which will leave hydrogen and oxygen as the end product, then it can cut down global warming scenario’s to almost 80% throughout the world. At the same time Gasoline, petrol and diesel consumption will also come down drastically.