Did you know that hydrogen has great potential to mitigate climate change? However, its production causes a large amount of fossil fuel consumption that harms the environment. That’s why scientists are investigating how they can safely produce it with a study using artificial photosynthesis. We explain to you how to produce hydrogen by artificial photosynthesis.
Hydrogen production through artificial photosynthesis
One of the ways hydrogen is produced is through the electrolysis process. This consists of the splitting of water molecules (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen via an electric current. The process is similar to photosynthesis in plants, which uses energy from sunlight to convert H2O and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose.
So, scientists from the University of Michigan, led by Peng Zhou, created an artificial leaf that allows hydrogen to be obtained. This finding repeats photosynthesis as it harvests energy from the sun to break apart water molecules.
Its work takes place in a closed environment and uses elements such as:
- Pure water.
- Concentration of a large amount of sunlight.
- Combination of indium and gallium with a nitride photocatalyst.
These materials are used to purify air and decompose organic pollutants; Therefore, their combination offers greater efficiency in removing contaminants.
To achieve this, a large lens was used that concentrates sunlight on a semiconductor catalyst dipped in H2O. This catalyst captures infrared light and heats the room to 70 °C. The process activates the separation of water and produces hydrogen.
The advantages of artificial photosynthesis
One of the main benefits of this artificial photosynthesis process is the promotion of renewable energy and environmental sustainability.
Another advantage of the technique over others is that the plate used can maintain a constant temperature of 75 °C. This temperature is ideal for holding the necessary heat that splits the water faster. In turn, the residual heat allows hydrogen and oxygen to be kept separate.
Similarly, the artificial method of photosynthesis makes great use of light from the sun. In other words, natural light and another lab-generated light are used to heat the reaction.
According to scientists’ estimations, there is an efficiency of 6.1% in the outdoor version and 9% in the indoor environment. This method exhibits significant improvements over previous methods, which were only able to achieve efficiencies below 3%.
While hydrogen remains a desirable alternative to fossil fuels, this process could provide a clean, economical and efficient way to produce it.
According to the professors, the biggest benefit is minimizing the cost of sustainable hydrogen. This was achieved by downsizing the semiconductor, which is often the most expensive part of the device.
The researchers want to increase efficiency and make the method suitable for commercial production. Its purpose is to leverage existing infrastructure to produce low-cost green hydrogen in the future.
In contrast, a larger production on a larger scale is expected with the materials used. Finally, the study authors are confident that these artificial procedures are more efficient than natural ones. As a result, it is possible to obtain hydrogen, thanks to the hard work of science. Thanks to laboratory tests, it is possible to obtain this basic compound for renewable energy. Let’s continue to monitor developments.