MIT researchers have developed a solar energy storage system inspired by the principle of photosynthesis. A discovery which should make it possible in the near future to supply energy to our homes and vehicles.

Daniel Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a researcher and post doctoral candidate at respectively MIT  (MIT) have developed a new method to split water into hydrogen and oxygen on the basis of photosynthesis, the process by which plants separate the hydrogen from water and carbon carbon dioxide.

As Yves Heuillard in precise DD Magazine, "The key (the method) is a tin oxide electrode and indium immersed in a cobalt and potassium phosphate solution. Under the effect of electric field, forms a cobalt film and phosphate on the electrode connected to the negative pole (anode), which acts as a catalyst for dissociation of oxygen from the water. another electrode connected to the positive pole (cathode) and associated with a catalyst such as platinum promotes the release of hydrogen. the system acts as the plant photosynthesis reaction (the latter separates the hydrogen from water and the carbon of carbon dioxide). It operates at ambient temperature and in a water PH neutral, it is easy to achieve. " Hydrogen and oxygen once separated can then recombine with a fuel cell, allowing the production of electricity.

The electricity or heat from solar energy is today difficult to store, current methods such as electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is inefficient and expensive. Through the work of Nocera, the storage of solar energy could last, in the near future, be a simple, inexpensive and effective. The energy produced the day would be stored as hydrogen and could be reused night.

The scientific community welcomes this discovery, considered a major breakthrough that could eventually allow supplying power not only our homes but also our vehicles. According to Nocera, the next ten years, homes could be well equipped with solar panels, its catalyst and a hydrogen fuel cell.

sources: DD Magazine et MIT

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