A new molecule developed by scientists at Ohio State University can collect energy from the entire visible spectrum, absorbing up to 50 percent more solar energy than current solar cells and catalyzing it to hydrogen,media New Atlas reported. Hydrogen is seen by many countries as a clean burning fuel that can power our vehicles in a low-emission seamount future.
One way to produce hydrogen is to break it down from the water. Typically, this is done by breaking down water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen by using electricity, but a potentially simpler and more effective method may be to catalyze water decomposition. Now the Ohio State University team says it has discovered one of the most effective photocatalytic molecules to date.
The molecule shows a unique ability to use light in the visible spectrum. Previously, most photocatalysts focused on high-energy UV wavelengths, which capture the energy of ultraviolet light up to the visible spectrum and into the near-infrared range, meaning it absorbs 50 percent more solar energy than current solar cells.
Many previous attempts have also lost their efficiency by using two or more molecules in catalysts, the researchers said. As these molecules exchange electrons, these systems will lose energy – a single-molecule solution at Ohio State University would not be the problem. The new photocatalyst under discussion is a form of the crucible element. The researchers tested the LED lamp in the lab in an acidic solution containing the active molecule and found that hydrogen was released.
“It’s unprecedented to store two electrons in a single molecule derived from two photons and use them together to make hydrogen,” said Claudia Turro, director of the Center for Chemical and Biophysical Dynamics Research at Ohio State University. “
A number of issues still need to be addressed before this approach becomes a commercially viable means of producing clean fuels. The main thing is that radon is rare and expensive. Turro says the team is trying to figure out how to make it cheap and make it longer. However, this study undoubtedly brings the process of photocatalytic decomposition of water hydrogen closer to reality.
The study was published in nature chemistry.