Eco Factor: Storing solar energy in the form of hydrogen for fuel cells.
Thecurrent technology might have enabled us to install a solar plant righton our rooftops, but all that energy is of no use if there isn’t enoughstorage medium available. Currently most PV plants use batteries as astorage medium, which not only is an expensive way but the low-energydensity of batteries makes them impractical for normal use.
DanielNocera, a researcher at MIT, is working on the development of apractical, inexpensive storage system that can also offer better energydensity than conventionally used batteries. The researcher has proposeda system that mimics photosynthesis in plants and uses solar energy tosplit water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. While the oxygengenerated during the process is released into the atmosphere, hydrogenis used to power fuel cells.
While the energy density ofbatteries is about 0.5MJ/kg, the energy density of liquid fuels isabout 50MJ/kg. Nocera’s approach of using the solar energy to producefuel for a fuel cell could be the key to offering affordablepersonalized solar energy in the not-too-distant future.