Hydrogen Fuel Current Affairs
CSIR scientists have developed an ultra-thin wireless device that mimics plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight. The artificial leaf absorbs sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water.
In advance, this artificial leaf may provide clean energy for powering eco-friendly cars in the future. It can serve ultimate solution for our energy and environment problems.
Need for such technology
At present, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming. In this process large amount of carbon di-oxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas is emitted which promotes global warming. So in view of pressing energy and environmental issues, it is important to produce hydrogen from natural resources such as sunlight and water. India is also blessed with plenty of sunlight throughout year that is not exploited significantly to produce energy or hydrogen.
The artificial leaf or the wireless device consists of semiconductors stacked in manner to simulate natural leaf system. The device has an area of 23 square centimetres. When visible light strikes semiconductors, electrons move in one direction and produce electric current.
The current almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen – making it one of cleanest forms of fuel as its main byproduct is water. It can produce 6 litres of hydrogen fuel per hour.
To improve light-absorbing efficiency of artificial leaf, researchers had used gold nanoparticles, titanium dioxide and quantum dots. Quantum dots are semiconductor crystals of nanometre dimensions with properties that depend on the size of dots.
Scientists from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have switched on world’s largest artificial sun – a device developed to help shed light on new ways of making climate-friendly fuels.
The artificial sun is giant honeycomb-like set-up of 149 spotlights, officially known as Synlight. It is located in Juelich. It uses xenon short-arc lamps normally found in cinemas to simulate natural sunlight.
- The aim of Synlight experiment is to develop an optimal setup for concentrating natural sunlight to power a reaction to produce hydrogen fuel.
- Its goal is to eventually use actual sunlight rather than the artificial light produced using electricity which is costly and requires as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would use in a year.
- Using the array, scientists are seeking to produce the equivalent of 10,000 times the amount of solar radiation by focusing the entire array on a single 8×8 in spot (20*20cm).
- When light from all the lamps is aligned to concentrate on a single spot, it can generate temperatures of around 3,500 degree Celsius i.e. temperature two to three times of a blast furnace.
Significance of this experiment
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, but on earth it is relatively rare. One way to manufacture hydrogen is to split water (H2O) into its two elemental components – Hydrogen and oxygen, using electricity in electrolysis process. Synlight experiment will bypass usage of electricity by tapping into the enormous amount of solar energy that reaches Earth from sun. Hydrogen obtained from it will be used to be used in fuel cells, a clean source of energy that does not produce carbon emissions.