Perhaps among all clean energy alternatives, nothing can be as clean as hydrogen. Burning hydrogen in fuel cells produces only water as a byproduct. In that sense, it’s also truly renewable. Yet, manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells on a larger scale hasn’t been that easy, primarily because fuel cells require rather complex and, until recently, expensive materials.
A team of researchers working at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, together with scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), have discovered an alternative way of producing hydrogen as fuel. The key is to produce hydrogen from water using a combination of sunlight and photosensitive lipids. Their work was published in the journal ACS Nano.
From Water and Sunlight
This new research offers a potentially more efficient and cost-effective way of producing hydrogen fuel. Accordingly, it’s possible to get hydrogen from water through solar power, using special compounds like titanium dioxide to act as photocatalysts. The U.S. and Russian team of researchers inserted a photosensitive protein into nanodiscs — made from circular fragments of cell membrane composed of a lipid bilayer — to mimic a natural cell membrane called bacteriorhodopsin.