Why is solar power important to hydrogen fuel cell production

April 13, 2011 0 By Stephen Vagus

With hydrogen fuel becoming a popular option for many businesses the world over, pressure is mounting on scientists to find way to make using the energy more efficient. Many researchers have risen to the challenge, making breakthroughs in fuel cell technology and hydrogen production. One area of research that seems to be popular amongst scientists is the replication of photosynthesis. Artificial photosynthesis could give alternative fuels the strength they need to break the world’s reliance on fossil-fuels.

There is a certain stigma surrounding alternative fuels, mostly stemming from the how inefficient they happen to be. Coupled with lackluster results for biofuels likes Ethanol, skepticism over finding a real alternative to fossil-fuels seems to be at an all time high. This has led more scientists to focus their attention on hydrogen, as it is the only fuel that can be produced on a massive scale using little more than sunlight, oxygen and water.

Nate Lewis of the California Institute of Technology has been tapped to lead the newly formed Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. Backed by the Department of Energy, Lewis and his team have been experimenting with ways of producing hydrogen through the photosynthetic process.

Speaking at the Yale Climate and Energy Institute’s annual conference, Lewis laid out a plan that would harness the power of the world’s largest energy source: The sun. He said that building a new kind of hydrogen fuel cell that was unlike any current model will be paramount in his efforts. The fuel cell will use an extensive network of silicon microfibers that will help funnel solar energy into the unit.

Solar Power

Lewis’ efforts are spurred on by breakthrough research done by Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where an artificial leaf was created that could perfectly replicate photosynthesis.