Solar panels are becoming a familiar site in communities across the United States, but what about solar fuels? A solar fuel is produced from sunlight through artificial photosynthesis, mimicking what Mother Nature has been doing for billions of years. Many chemists and chemical engineers are working to make solar fuels a viable option in the future. In fact, there’s even a worldwide “Solar Army” on the job, and California Institute of Technology chemistry professor Harry Gray is known as their commanding general!
Gray is director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels (CCI Solar). His troops are hundreds of senior researchers and eager students who are on a mission to find a metal oxide catalyst that can activate sunlight’s energy by deconstructing and transforming water molecules into hydrogen fuel—on a large scale and affordably.
Up until now, the most effective catalysts have required pricy, precious metals, such as platinum. But, these chemists hope to identify new, much less expensive catalysts, which would make solar fuels a more affordable renewable energy option.
Read more at: Phys.org