The chemical engineers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, which is also the academic home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), have been doing a little home cooking recently to produce hydrogen.
In fact, what the engineers have developed is a modified self-cleaning over with an intense magnifying glass that uses solar energy plus a material used in self-cleaning ovens called cerium oxide (or ceria) to break down CO2 and water (H2O).
Ceria has the property of “breathing” oxygen, dissociating it from it molecules for a time at high temperatures. When it does this with water, then hydrogen can be captured and used for powering fuel cell cars and other hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Ceria has been used for years to clean off debris, baked on gunk and other stuff that accumulates over time in ovens. But, add a little solar energy and now ceria will shake and bake water into hydrogen and oxygen which can be used for fuel.
Don’t be surprised if sometime in the future a modified form of this oven is moved into your garage to cook up some hydrogen for your fuel cell car. And cooking up a big old apple pie would be a nice added touch as well.