Researchers make a breakthrough in hydrogen fuel productionMarch 28, 2016
Research team finds a way to produce hydrogen using solar energy and water vapor
Researchers from the University of Louisville Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research have demonstrated a new way to extract energy from water vapor, leveraging the power of solar energy. The new method could hold significant energy potential for coastal communities that lack access to fresh water, such as those found in California. The process involves using solar energy to produce hydrogen fuel from water vapor. In the past, researchers have used solar power to produce hydrogen, but through basic water electrolysis.
Proof-of-concept system shows that it can be used efficiently
The research team believes that this new method is a major breakthrough and could lead to the efficient production of hydrogen. The team has devised a proof-of-concept system that they have found to operate efficiently in realistic conditions on the surface of the ocean. While the technology behind the new system may be more than a decade away from commercialization, it does show significant promise in terms of energy production. It may also help overcome one of the challenges associated with solar power.
Hydrogen can serve as an energy dense form of storage for solar power
One major drawback of solar energy systems is that they cannot generate electricity at night, when the sun is not shining. Solar power can, however, be stored as hydrogen, which can then be used at a later time to generate electricity. Traditional electrolysis involves the use of liquid water, access to which is becoming more scarce in certain parts of the world. The new system is capable of gathering water vapor from the air, gathering this vapor for electrolysis at a later time.
Solar fuels continue to grow in importance
Solar fuels are becoming more important to the clean energy industry as a whole. These fuels, such as hydrogen, are produced through the use of solar energy. Solar can be used as a sustainable way to produce such fuels. Having solar fuel production systems based at sea also limits the amount of land that they need, which also means that they have relatively little environmental impact.