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    New nanomaterial can harvest hydrogen from water using light

    By Christopher McFadden,

    2023-06-20
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2xtCt4_0n193oAa00
    The new material could revolutionize the hydrogen industry.

    Scientists worldwide have achieved a significant milestone in producing clean energy by inventing a novel nanomaterial that can extract hydrogen from fresh or salt water using solar energy.

    This innovative methodology, inspired by photosynthesizing bacteria, has immense potential to transform hydrogen production into a non-polluting fuel and a promising energy-storage medium.

    The study, published in the journal Nature Catalysis, explains how researchers replicated the distinctive structure of bacteria, which functions as a light sensor, to develop a nanomaterial. This nanomaterial forms the foundation of an artificial system that can utilize light energy for photocatalysis, a chemical reaction that results in the creation of hydrogen and other materials. Using light; the researchers were able to convert water into hydrogen for use in fuel cells and other industrial purposes.

    The new nanomaterial is stable in water

    David Lee Phillips, a leading scientist in physical chemistry at the University of Hong Kong, said, "The nanomaterial is stable enough in ambient water. That’s a big breakthrough because many things for photocatalysis reactions are not necessarily stable in water. Here we’re using water as the reactant – like nature does.”

    Phillips has successfully performed catalysis in ambient conditions using a stable nanomaterial that can withstand water. This is a significant achievement, as many photocatalysis reactions struggle with water stability. He and his team are developing photocatalysis toolkits that transform carbon dioxide into useful substances. This innovative approach to ambient temperature catalysis can enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of various processes, as it eliminates the need for intricate temperature and pressure controls.

    The nanomaterial system offers the significant benefit of producing high-quality products, which is critical for achieving optimal performance in industrial applications like fuel cells. Furthermore, the researchers emphasize the potential of using membranes to filter out undesired molecules and ensure the production of specific and pure products.

    “In industry, we want pure things. We want pure hydrogen, but not other stuff like ammonia or hydrocarbon because impurities degrade devices like fuel cells,” said Guo Zhengxiao, a chemistry and mechanical engineering professor at HKU who works with Phillips on solar-hydrogen research. He also explained that adding a membrane could filter out unwanted molecules further.

    It can work without the need for electricity too

    “Together, this technology can make a real green and cost-effective selective process to produce particular products,” he added. Efficient and sustainable energy solutions are in high demand worldwide. The development of solar-powered hydrogen extraction technologies shows great potential in this regard.

    These technologies can extract hydrogen from water without electricity, offering a cleaner and more efficient energy source for the future. With more research and practical application, these advancements can significantly transform the global energy landscape.

    “What we try to do is offer ways of doing it very efficiently with the new system, and hopefully, it can be tested and integrated into practical applications,” he said. According to Phillips, the latest material can enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production and increase its durability, thereby prolonging the lifespan of solar panels and other related devices.

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