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High-tech paint offers endless energy from water vapor
July 9, 2017, 12:48 pm

A new high-tech paint that can absorb water vapor and split it to generate hydrogen has been developed by researchers at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

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. But unlike silica gel, the new material — synthetic molybdenum-sulfide — also acts as a semi-conductor and catalyzes the splitting of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

By mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles the researchers found that they could develop a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air.

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.

The new development has a range of advantages, including the fact that that there is no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.

Hydrogen is the cleanest source of energy and could be used in fuel cells as well as conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels. The system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans as the sea water gets evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapor can then be absorbed to produce fuel.

The paint, which is still being produced only as a proof of concept, has huge future potential as it involves making fuel from literally abundant free sunshine and water vapor in the atmosphere, said the researchers.

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