New solar paint turns moist air into solar energy
The paint contains a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel, which is used in sachets to absorb moisture and keep food, medicines and electronics fresh and dry.
However, unlike silica gel, the new material, synthetic molybdenum-sulphide, also acts as a semi-conductor and catalyses the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen.
“We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air,” said Torben Daeneke, from RMIT University, Melbourne.
“Titanium oxide is the white pigment that is already commonly used in wall paint, meaning that the simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate,” said Daeneke, lead researcher of the study published in the journal ACS Nano.
“Our new development has a big range of advantages. There is no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapour in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel,” he said.
Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, also from RMIT University, said hydrogen was the cleanest source of energy and could be used in fuel cells as well as conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels.