The research is led by the University of Strathclyde. It suggests that hydrogen fuel can be made from solar energy. The result would be a clean, renewable fuel.
Most hydrogen is still made from natural gas, which produces greenhouse gases. Green hydrogen is produced from water using a photocatalyst. It drives the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight.
When used in a fuel cell, hydrogen emits no greenhouse gases. It can help decarbonize sectors such as shipping and transportation.
The lead researcher is Dr. Sebastian Sprick, of Strathclyde. He said in a statement: “There is an abundant renewable energy resource to address the sustainable energy challenge. It is the sun. Energy that reaches the Earth’s surface eight thousand times more than the annual global energy needed.”
This is an important step. The above systems use so-called sacrificial reagents to drive the reaction. Sacrificial agents are electron donors that reduce the tendency for electron recombination. Although these allow us researchers to understand the systems, they made them negative energy.
“This study provides a way forward to further optimize as it is not a sacrifice. Photocatalysts (polymers) are of great interest. Their properties can be tuned by synthetic approaches. It allows us to optimize more activity.”
The researchers say another potential advantage is that the polymers can be printed. What does this allow us to do? The use of cost-effective printing technologies to scale, just like newspaper printing.
Solar-powered hydrogen fuel is also part of the green fight. Dr. Sprick added, “We must produce hydrogen at scale to effectively address climate change.”