With each passing year, the conversation surrounding global warming and the need to find cheaper, renewable energy has become more pronounced within the media, however tangible solutions have been difficult to find. A researcher at Florida State and his team, however, may have recently helped discover one.
Dr. Jose L. Mendoza-Cortesand his team discovered a material that mimics the process of natural photosynthesis, a process through which plants harness sunlight in order to convert water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates–an organic compound that fuels all living things.
This new material, however, has the ability to use sunlight to power the conversion ofwater into hydrogen gas–a zero-emissionenergy recourse that has the potential to dramatically decrease our carbon footprint.
"This family of materials can do two things," assistant professor of chemical engineering Dr. Mendoza-Cortes says. "One is that it absorbs sunlight effectively in the range that it can drive the conversion of water to oxygen and hydrogen. It can also work as the catalysis for this conversion."
The material is cheap to manufacture and efficient in use; ideally the material could be used on the top of roofs in order to convert rain water into energy using only the sun's energy–essentially creating a zero-emission fuel using a renewable energy source.
The method of using solar poweras renewable energy has been around for a few years now, but the fact that the sun eventually goes down has been a perpetual roadblock in relying on it solely as an energy source. Because solar cells do not store energy, Dr. Mendoza explained, in any other part of the day where the sun is down or otherwise obscured, other resources need to be relied on. However, this new material doesn't face the same obstacle.
The energy found within the family of materials discovered by Dr. Mendoza-Cortes "is stored in the hydrogen produced and can be used in a fuel cell to generate energy in any other part of the day," he explained.
This new material could be what is used to create newer, less damaging resources.If the material can store energy so that the energy may be used when there is no sunlight, then there is a possibility that our world could be in for a change in how our world gets power, and how we use energy within our own homes.