This device might be the ultimate messiah for all our energy and pollution woes! Belgian scientists have created a contraption that uses catalysts to break down smoke and smog in the air and turn it into hydrogen gas that can be used as a pollution-free fuel!
The gizmo only needs sunlight to work and can be a godsend for our ever so smoggy cities. The technology is the brainchild of researchers from the University of Antwerp and the University of Leuven in Belgium who have created the protoelectrochemical (PEC) cells using catalysts that can turn smoke into hydrogen gas.
Dr Sammy Verbruggen, who led the study, said in a news release,
‘Air is purified on one side, while on the other side, hydrogen gas is produced from a part of the degradation products.
‘This hydrogen gas can be stored and used later as fuel, as is already being done in some hydrogen buses, for example.’
The device allows us to respond to two major social needs, alternative energy production and the need for clean air.
‘In the past, these cells were mostly used to extract hydrogen from water. We have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air’, said Dr Verbruggen.
The device uses technology similar to found in solar panels, but rather than generating electricity, it purifies the air stored as hydrogen gas.
‘We are currently working on a scale of only a few square centimetres’, said Dr Verbruggen.
‘At a later stage, we would like to scale up our technology to make the process industrially applicable.
‘We are also working on improving our materials so we can use sunlight more efficiently to trigger the reactions’, he said.
This hydrogen can be used as a fuel to be burned directly in the engine that produces water as a waste product or it can also be reacted with oxygen to generate electricity.
Car manufacturers and transport companies have been turning towards hydrogen technologies considering the pressing issue of polluted cities, and this device would certainly help them go a long way!
Researchers described their device in the journal ChemSusChem.