In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year.
One of the major challenges in micro-electricity generation, especially off-grid, is the need for a storage medium to provide electricity when demand is greater than supply or when supply of the generating medium (sunlight, wind, water etc.) is limited (such as overnight, on calm days or during dry periods). The traditional solution, is storage in batteries – an expensive, bulky and potentially polluting solution. However, this could all be a thing of the past as researchers, Daniel Nocera and Matthew Kanan working at MIT have developed a new method for storing energy that requires only commonly found, non-toxic natural materials.
Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants … [the researchers] have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.
More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems … such systems will become a reality.
Exciting stuff … I’d love to see practical and affordable home electricity generation options on the market so will watch this one with interest.
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