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Hydrogen out of thin air?

Swiss scientists have unveiled a new artificial leaf that can take water from the air and convert it into hydrogen.

Chemical engineers from EPFL, a university located in Lausanne, Switzerland, have discovered a device able to harvest water from the air and provide hydrogen fuel.

They stress that the whole process is entirely powered by solar energy.

Their novel system combines semiconductor-based technology with electrodes which are porous to absorb as much water as possible from the air and transparent to maximise sunlight exposure.

When the device is exposed to sunlight the stored water is turned to hydrogen gas.

Kevin Sivula of EPFL’s Laboratory for Molecular Engineering of Optoelectronic Nanomaterials and principal investigator of the study said: “To realise a sustainable society, we need ways to store renewable energy as chemicals that can be used as fuels and feedstocks in industry.

“Solar energy is the most abundant form of renewable energy and we are striving to develop economically-competitive ways to produce solar fuels.”

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