A team of researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have recently set up a new laboratory (the first in Asia) that will be used to convert water into hydrogen fuel.
As the scientists said, the development of this technology may reduce the cost of using solar power to the same price as using conventional energy sources.
According to NTU president Bertil Andersson, the laboratory will use what is known as “artificial leaf” technology. It is inspired by the way leaves use sunlight to generate electricity.
This technique will make possible the separation of water into oxygen and hydrogen. Large quantities of hydrogen can be produced in a clean and sustainable manner.
Conventional technologies are not so efficient because they require huge amounts of energy to extract only small amounts of hydrogen from water.
Besides this, the researchers want to test in the lab if cheap substances like titanium dioxide and rust can efficiently capture solar energy to split water. Currently, such extraction technologies are available, but the team wants to find cheaper ways.
“We can do this reaction right now. It’s no problem. We can use platinum, or we can use very expensive semi-conductor materials. The challenge is to devise a technology which is cheap, and is robust,” said professor James Barber, a leading expert in this field.
NTU hopes to finish the prototype in about three to five years and believes one day hydrogen-powered vehicles will use this technology.