Researchers at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York are using artificial photosynthesis plus nanotechnology to create hydrogen from sunlight. Even though Energy Secretary Steven Chu has made public statements such as “If it were up to me, I would put every cent into electric cars” the funding for this project to the tune of $1.7 million is coming from the Department of Energy (DOE).
The Big 6 automakers have made it clear that they are continuing to pursue hydrogen cars in spite of what the DOE has to say. University researchers are not dissuaded either. So, the scientists at the University of Rochester are developing a system made up of three modules to use sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The first module will have a re-engineered synthetic form of chromophore that plants use to absorb sunlight and create free electrons. The second module contains carbon nanotube membranes, which direct the electrons towards the third module.
The third module uses these redirected electrons to split water into hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used to power hydrogen cars or stationary fuel cells. The researchers believe this system is simpler and more efficient than other similar systems being worked on concurrently by other researchers.
If scientists and researchers continue to receive federal funding for hydrogen projects then breakthrough technology is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time until we see the fruits of all of this labor.