'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sat, 09 Aug 2008 19:06:49 GMT  <== Science/Technology ==> 

Anne Trafton at The MIT News Office - Daniel Nocera claims to have discovered a catalyst that enables solar hydrolysis. Yay! The evermore solution to our energy problems. I hope. [tmm]

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

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