Solar Energy to Hydrogen, All Night Long
MIT Copying the leave of a plant photosynthesis system.
The plant produces with sunlight sugar, to store for "night fuel"
Solar cells with specified Catalysts can do the same, converting
sunlight into Hydrogen, to store without batteries for "night fuel"
used in a fuel cell; The process found is a low energy conversion
SUN to Hydrogen.The idea to market time seems to be short.
MIT professor Daniel G. Nocera has long been jealous of plants. He desperately wanted to do what they do--split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use the products to do work. That, he figures, is the only way we humans can solve our energy problems; enough energy pours down from the sun in one hour to power the planet's energy needs for a year.
In January, only a month after reevaluating his methodology in the face of a frustratingly slow process, he finally found a way. "For six months now I've been looking at the leaves and saying 'I own you guys!'"
Nocera's discovery--a cheap and easy way to store energy that he thinks will be used to change solar power into a mainstream energy source--will be published in the journal Science on Friday. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited--and soon."
Plants catch light and turn it into an electric current, then use that energy to excite catalysts that split water into hydrogen and oxygen during what is called photosynthesis' light cycle. The energy is then used during the dark cycle to allow the plant to build sugars used for growth and energy storage.