Water, the fuel of the future

Popularly known as solar fuels, these are the ones to replace the finite and expensive fossil fuels in a few years.

In just a few years, fossil fuels have gone from being the center of attention in half the world to being relegated to the background. The search for solutions that are respectful with the environment and that allow us to use them infinitely without taking the plant ahead has taken the lead. The point is that in a short time, the elements that have been added to the list of candidates of what is known as solar fuelsThose who turn to sunlight, water and carbon dioxide have grown enormously in number. And not only in variety, also in terms of techniques to use its energy capacity. In the investigations carried out it is important to keep in mind the concept of practical: that they are cheap and with efficient materials. It would be useless to have a new source of energy that would lead the human being to fall into the same failures as their ancestors.

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To this list is added one of the discoveries of a team of researchers from Caltech and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), who have been working on the possibilities of transforming hydrogen gas into liquid hydrocarbons, implicating in this process the division of water components.

That is, each molecule of the water is made up of one atom of oxygen and two of hydrogen; If the researchers extract the hydrogen, and combine it with CO2, they have the possibility of creating a new fuel. How do they break it down? Using visible light as an energy source through a solar energy catalyst, since if these molecules were to decompose simply when light falls on them, the planet would have a water supply problem. In other words: researchers are working on the best decomposition techniques. And it is precisely these catalysts, or photoanodes, that the team is working on at the moment; after two years they have already achieved 12 new systems to apply to the decomposition of water in large quantities. Influencing the detection of the properties of the materials and thus increasing their long-term performance by creating better solar fuels. In a new advance, scientists have gone from the theory, already tested in several projects, to using supercomputers that help increase the chances of success.

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Taking into account that the surface of the Earth covered by water is 70% of its volume, being almost 96.5% contained in the oceans, it is interesting to be able to use one of the most important elements on the planet. Especially if it is salt water.

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