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Artificial Photosynthesis Could Power Homes on a Bottle of Water


MIT chemist Daniel Nocera claims that with just one bottle of drinking water and four hours of sunlight, he can generate 30 KWh of electricity, being enough to power an entire home. This process consists in a a cobalt-based catalyst that uses solar energy to split water and produce hydrogen.

Using the electric energy obtained from a 30-square-meter photovoltaic array, Nocera’s catalyst converts carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and hydrogen. The process is just like photosynthesis, where plants generate energy in the form of sugars instead of hydrogen.

This hydrogen produced through artificial photosynthesis can be converted directly into liquid fuel or recombined with oxygen in a fuel cell. Nocera’s start-up company, Sun Catalytix, will soon make the system affordable enough to allow individual houses to produce their own fuel and electric energy on-site. The problem of hydrogen transportation could be solved if the hydrogen production would be distributed this way.

“If I could store the sun in terms of a fuel, then at night when the sun goes down I can use the sun, effectively,” Nocera said in a company video. “What we’ve done is that we’ve made sunlight available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

To know more about this process, you may watch the following video:

[Source: Physorg]

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  1. It’s good to see that the company is working on making it affordable for the average homeowner. That is a good method of increasing the adoption rate and getting the most out of this new technology of generating power.

  2. This is a good step forward but the follow through will have to be a hydrogen-based energy generation system for every home. It’s not too much of a technical hurdle (it’s the same technology as found in hybrid cars) but getting every home to purchase it’s own hydrogen power plant might be too big of a pill to swallow.

  3. I really wish this was presented more clearly. The first paragraph implies that Nocera invented a photosynthesis system, which isn’t true. He’s is presenting a new and more efficient electrolysis system.

    The solar photovoltaics are someone else’s job, so this is just part of the answer, not the whole answer. You still need to buy and install those expensive solar panels. Then with this system you can use the electricity produced to create hydrogen as a fuel.

    This opens the door to cheap hydrogen generation. A crucial aspect, but not all the other puzzle pieces are in place. Storage is still being worked on by others, and conversion of hydrogen by fuel cells is yet another aspect for others to improve, although that seems to have some promising improvements lately,


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