Nanotrees aid renewable energy

  • Hydrogen is a clean burning renewable energy source that exhibits amazing potential for use in fuel cell technology. However, the method of hydrogen generation is a barrier to mass production as the process requires electrical input whose generation often requires fossil fuels. Thus, any sustainable benefit of hydrogen use is negated by the generation of CO2 and the cost of electricity.
  • Scientists have recently created a method for extracting hydrogen without electrical
    input. The technology uses nanowires that resemble trees. These materials provide a
    very large surface area where photoelectrochemical water-splitting reactions can take
    place. Powering these reactions is the sun and the result is a clean-energy source lacking any carbon emissions. Next on the horizon is a method of artificial photosynthesis whereby sunlight, CO2 and atmospheric water are used to create hydrocarbons.

Hydrogen as a fuel for transport or a storage vehicle for renewable energy systems during times of low demand is fast becoming a reality. Likely not suitable for all transport applications, decision makers must determine which sector would benefit most from hydrogen and then begin fashioning a plan for its implementation. As a transportation fuel, hydrogen may better suit long haul travel than electricity.

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