Sep 24, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Scientists At Caltech And Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Turns Water Into Fuel

Mar 07, 2017 05:19 AM EST

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New materials have been discovered. These new materials can help water turn into fuel, said researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

In just two years, the numbers of materials that can help water turn to solar fuel have doubled, explained Caltech. The researchers have discovered these materials after speeding things up. They have developed a process that can make commercially available solar fuels. These solar fuels can replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels that harm the planet.

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The said solar fuels are made of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). They are the energy that many people want and dream of. These energies are very clean and will not do harm. They will be made from water that has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Scientists are targeting to make hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons.

The hydrogen gas can be made from hydrogen atoms that are extracted from the water and then will be reunited to create highly flammable gas. After that, it will be combined with CO2 and that will form hydrocarbon fuels. The process will create abundance in the renewable energy source. However, the process is not that easy. The solar-powered catalyst is needed for it.

That is where the problem lies; scientists have been trying to create low-cost and efficient materials, known as photoanodes, Science Daily has reported. These photoanodes can split water using visible light as an energy source. However, only 16 types of photoanode materials have been discovered so far. On the other hand, good news is that Caltech's John Gregoire and Berkeley Lab's Jeffrey Neaton and Qimin Yan have discovered 12 new promising photoanodes.

"This integration of theory and experiment is a blueprint for conducting research in an increasingly interdisciplinary world," says Gregoire, JCAP thrust coordinator for Photoelectrocatalysis and leader of the High Throughput Experimentation group. Having identified 12 new photoanodes is really exciting but the best part of this study is learning about the fundamental electronic structure of the materials themselves, said Neaton, the director of the Molecular Foundry.


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