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'Solar Paint' Prototype Introduced to Help Homes Generate Clean Energy

Jun 21, 2017 09:50 AM EDT

Solar paints could be the future of renewable energy. There's a new technology being developed that can turn solar energy and water vapor into fuel.

Researchers developed a new kind of solar paint that absorbs water vapor. The water vapor is then split in order to generate hydrogen -- the cleanest known energy source.

How does this work? The solar paint prototype has a newly invented compound similar to silica gel that absorbs moisture. The new material, synthetic molybdenum sulphide, is better because it's also a semiconductor that initiates the splitting of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

The researchers discovered that in order to create solar paint, the compound should be mixed with titanium oxide. This way, the paint can absorb sunlight that also produces hydrogen fuel harvested from both solar energy and the moisture found in the air.

"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," lead researcher Dr. Torben Daeneke from RMIT University said in a statement. "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."

Based on their research, using the new solar paint prototype has tons of advantages. The system eliminates the need for clean and filtered water. It will also work anywhere in the world even in remote areas as long as water vapor is available. This could be an endless supply of fuel if done in massive quantities.

According to the researchers, hydrogen is the cleanest kind of energy and could be used to replace fossil fuels. In areas where it is very dry, the solar paint can get energy from sea water that evaporated by sunlight.

The researchers believe that the concept is "extraordinary", that is turning solar energy and water vapor into fuel. The success of the new compound used for making solar paints will only be tested through time if it indeed works.

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