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New water splitting technique could produce hydrogen fuel

A technique using the power of sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen has been developed by researchers.

The development paves the way for the broad use of hydrogen as a clean, green fuel.

Researchers devised a solar-thermal system in which sunlight could be concentrated by a vast array of mirrors onto a single point atop a central tower up to several hundred feet tall. The tower would gather heat generated by the mirror system to roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,350 Celsius), then deliver it into a reactor containing chemical compounds known as metal oxide.

As a metal oxide compound heats up, it releases oxygen atoms, changing its material composition and causing the newly formed compound to seek out new oxygen atoms.

Despite the discovery, the commercialisation of such a solar-thermal reactor is likely years away.

Read more at University of Colorado

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  1. John Davidson

    Retired engineer

    Hydrogen is unlikely to be a practical transport fuel because it is so difficult to transport. However, if we have clean hydrogen we can use commercially available technology to produce a range of renewable, low impact fuels that can be produced without the need to divert land from food production or damage the environment.
    The bulk of both ammonia and methanol sold today are made from hydrogen produced from natural gas and either nitrogen from the air or CO2. Both can be used in existing vehicles with only minor modifications. In addition, hydrogen can be converted to gasoline, diesel and a range of hydrocarbons by reactions with CO2.
    This process could be attractive if it produces cheaper hydrogen than the alternatives. (See: