6 Jan 2009
Rays of Sunshine
The holy grail for renewable energy is to use sunlight to split water,
thereby producing hydrogen, which can then be either burnt as a fuel, or run through a fuel cell to produce electricity.
Researchers have been able to perform this reaction, but it has so far proven to be too inefficient and expensive to be viable (e.g. it has required the use of expensive and rare catalysts such as palladium). However, a professor at MIT in the US has recently made a signficant breakthrough - he has managed to use sunlight to split water and produce hydrogen efficiently using a cheap and readily available catalyst made from cobalt.
This could finally revolutionise solar power and according to a chemistry professor in Germany, "for solar power, this is probably the most important single discovery of the century." More details can be found at