MIT Researcher Mimics Photosynthesis To Turn Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen

A MIT researcher has demonstrated a reaction which resembles the photosynthesis process that plants make each day which means that from now on solar power could be deployed at world scale. Using catalysts developed by the chemist, he showed a video where oxygen was generated from water, just like plants do it in photosynthesis.

“I’m going to show you something I haven’t showed anybody yet,” said Daniel Nocera, the MIT chemist. After the lights were tuned off, he pointed to the video and asked – “Can you see that?” Then he explained – “Oxygen is pouring off of this electrode. This is the future. We’ve got the leaf.” This means that the most difficult obstacle was overcame as from now on we efficiently produce hydrogen gas by splitting water thanks to his catalysts.

This is very important as solar power could be deployed at worldwide and it could remove our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar power cannot replace oil with solar panels as solar cells are not very efficient and the sun doesn’t shine all day long. All this can change now, and we could use the catalysts and light to split water to generate hydrogen fuel which could power our cars. Also, according to Nocera, the catalysts could split seawater and if the hydrogen will be processed in a fuel cell then it will produce fresh water.

During recent history many scientists tried to get energy from the sun by resembling photosynthesis and their attempts were successful. The problem is that this process requires high temperatures, expensive catalysts, and harsh alkaline solutions, so it cannot be deployed at world-scale. Well, this will change as Nocera’s catalysts are cheap and they split water in oxygen and hydrogen at room temperature.


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