As many countries in the world turn to renewable energy, there have been several technologies and initiatives developed by engineers and scientists. One of the most popular is the roofing tiles of Elon Musk’s Tesla which doubles as solar panels.
Now Australian researchers are looking to find their new product in the same limelight. They have developed a paint that can be used to generate clean energy, as it can absorb solar energy and water vapor, and convert them to hydrogen fuel.
The paint uses a compound called the synthetic molybdenum-sulphide. Not only does this absorb moisture, it also acts as a semi-conductor and catalyzes the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen. The compound is specially developed for the paint.
Not actual paint. GIF by Ya Dumb
“We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air,” said lead author of the research, Dr Torben Daeneke from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
“Titanium oxide is the white pigment that is already commonly used in wall paint, meaning that the simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate,” he added.
Daeneke pointed out the greatest advantage of the paint, and that is there’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. “Any place that has water vapour in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel,” he said.
His colleague Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh shared that this paint is not exclusive for use in house surfaces like fence, shed, or even a dog house. It is also useful in fuel cells as well as conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Moreover, Kalantar-zadeh said, “This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapour can then be absorbed to produce fuel.”
The researchers said that the paint cannot be expected to be commercially viable within the next five years. But time comes it will be available, Daeneke believes that the end product will be cheap to produce.