Scientists from Osaka University in Japan are very close to obtaining solar energy from one of the most abundant resources on Earth – and that is seawater. Through a series of unique and controlled chemical reactions, they were able to collect hydrogen peroxide or H2O2 form seawater. This can be used in generating power in fuel cells.
In their recently published paper, scientists said solar energy is an essential alternative to fossil fuels, but still there are still limitations to the technology. We know that solar power systems are not as reliable at night unless you have solar battery storage installed in your house. Some technologies sidestep this problem by using hydrogen in storing solar energy in the form of chemical energy. This allows fuel cells to produce electricity 24/7. Even with this solution, H2 still has its own issues like it has to compress or cooled to a liquid state to be stored efficiently.
The research comes in here, the Japanese scientists discovered a way of obtaining H2O2 from seawater using sunlight. The compound has an advantage over H2 because it can be stored in a safer and simpler way. Until this new research came to light, there was no way of producing liquid H2O2 using sunlight, which is more efficient as compared to the ways of other scientists in obtaining liquid H2O2. The Japanese scientists also developed a novel photoelectrochemical cell which is basically a solar cell that produces H2O2.
The new fuel cells are not yet efficient and the method is not yet a complete solution, but the scientists are working to fix those issues. Engineer Shunichi Fukuzumi of Osaka University, told Phys.org that in the future, they are planning to work on developing a method for the low-cost, large-scale production of H2O2 from seawater. It may supersede the current high-cost production of H2O2 from H2 and O2.
Image credit: Inhabitat