Water Will Be The Fuel Of The Future

Posted: Mar 7 2017, 8:51am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Water Will be the Fuel of the Future
New materials are created through deposition onto disks, which are then tested to determine their properties. Credit: Caltech
  • New materials could turn water into the fuel of the future

If the trends are anything to go by, water may well serve as the fuel of choice for many a consumer in future times.

Researchers have almost doubled the number of materials which comprise solids, liquids and gases that could have a potential use as fuels. This has occurred over the last two years.

The pace of this progress is nothing short of revolutionary in its nature. These synthetic fuels could one day replace coal, oil and methane not to mention a host of other fossil fuels.

Many solar fuels are made via sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. They form the cleanest sources of fuel on the planet. Hydrogen gas and a number of liquid hydrocarbons have been produced by the electrolysis of water.

Each water molecule comprises an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms are separated and then welded back (so to say though in a chemical sense of that term).

This creates hydrogen gas or hydrocarbon fuels that are highly reactive. The source of these fuels is such that they will never be in short supply. Also these fuels will be renewable unlike the fossil fuels of today.

Water molecules do not split under ordinary circumstances. That is why the earth’s surface is flowing with water in the form of oceans.

To split these atoms, a bit of aid is needed from a catalyst. In order to make solar fuels, the experts have been trying to create economical and fast-acting materials. These are called photoanodes.

They can split water molecules using sunlight as a catalyst. Since the past 40 years, researchers have pinpointed 16 such materials. Currently though 12 efficient and novel photoanodes have been created. A paper regarding this was published in a journal.

There seems to be a two-way process between theory and practice which may yield many new fuels in the future as well. As the boundaries of various disciplines dissolve, the generation of novel materials that may take the place of gasoline and coal in the times to come may be a sure thing.

It is all about moving towards a greater understanding of the ins and outs of advanced chemistry. That is because it is here that the materials that may one day make fossil fuels obsolete lie just waiting to be created from scratch.

The experiments which will churn out such materials may use some help from supercomputers as well.

A paper about the method and the new photoanodes appears this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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