Innovation That Matters

The cubic silicon carbide | Photo source Thor Balkhed

Nanoporous material improves sustainability of hydrogen energy production

Science

Using solar power to split water molecules creates hydrogen without the vast amount of usual carbon dioxide emissions

Spotted: Researchers at Sweden’s Linköping University created a nanoporous material called cubic silicon carbide (3C-SiC) that can be used to produce hydrogen gas via solar power. The new material consists of many small pores, and the design increases the efficiency of the molecule splitting process and the size of the available surface. Using solar power to split water molecules creates hydrogen without the vast amount of usual carbon dioxide emissions.

Although hydrogen energy is currently available, its production is exceptionally harmful to the environment, based on the volume of carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacturing processes. Moreover, at the moment solar energy is somewhat limited by the size of battery available to store it. Hydrogen, however, can be safely stored and transported in much the same way as petrol is now.

Cleanly produced hydrogen gas could therefore significantly improve the renewable energy market, with both consumers and producers benefitting. As hydrogen is more energy-dense than petrol, less is needed for the same amount of power.

In tests, the new material trapped almost all ultraviolet and visible wavelengths of sunlight, making the process highly efficient. Combined with the lack of carbon emissions, large scale use of the material and procedure could become one of the most sustainable renewable sources of electricity and power.

With Springwise having spotted hydrogen being used in hybrid systems such as diesel transport engines and a home power plant, further successes and additions of safety features will make it easier to embrace such a combustible source of energy.

Written By: Keely Khoury

Explore more: Science Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

Email: jianwu.sun@liu.se

Website: liu.se

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