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A novel way to store energy from the sun in solution for eventual conversion to hydrogen

Scientists have developed a novel way to store energy captured from the sun. They will use it in conversion to hydrogen fuel. The study has been published in Nature Chemistry. Scientists described how they produced a molecule which is capable of holding energy captured from the sun. It can be used later to produce hydrogen fuel.

Solar cell technology has matured. Scientists are trying to find a better way to store the energy produced. It can be used when the sun is not shining. Most current systems use batteries. But most in the field agree is inefficient. Other approaches involve using the energy from the sun directly to produce hydrogen fuel. Bu this process needs a lot of expensive storage issues.

In the new study, scientists have taken a new approach. They stored the energy from the sun in molecules. There it can be released on demand to create hydrogen fuel.

Scientists created a compound using a metal oxide. It was bonded to dual light-sensitive molecules. These were based on a rare metal named ruthenium. The resulting molecules were then added to a solution. The solution contained sodium ascorbate. In this process  solar cells are not needed at all. Sunlight is directed onto the solution where its energy is captured via electrons from the salt. The solution changes from clear to dark blue. It showed the liquid was viable for up to 24 hours.

The next phase involves adding an acid to the solution. The electrons combine with hydrogen ions in the acid to produce hydrogen gas. It can be used as a fuel source.

The energy-holding molecules can be charged and discharged multiple times. But they will degrade over time. So, their recyclability is an issue. Scientists noted, ruthenium is very expensive. They need to search for a suitable and less expensive replacement.

Scientists suggested their work hints at the possibility of storing energy in a solution as an on-demand hydrogen fuel source.


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