Researchers Try Hydrogen Via Photosynthesis

Penn State researchers, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, developed a device that can split water and produce hydrogen. The research is based on the principles of photosynthesis, which occurs in nature, and allows plants, trees, algae, and even certain bacteria to turn sunlight into usable energy. The new process is performed artificially. Although the research is an extremely early phase of development, it creates new possibilities for the future of sustainable mobility.

With nature operating at just one to three percent efficiency with natural photosynthesis, scientists have a long way to go to make this process potent enough to be practical. “This is a proof-of-concept system that is very inefficient. But ultimately, catalytic systems with 10 to 15 percent solar conversion efficiency might be achievable,” said Thomas E. Mallouk, the DuPont Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics. “If this could be realized, water photolysis would provide a clean source of hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight.”

Researchers are working to salvage the idea of a hydrogen infrastructure, which continues to look like pie-in-the-sky. The artificial photosynthesis project from Penn State follows a recent announcement by Texas A&M University, in which hydrogen is produced by modifying E. Coli. Auto companies continue to invest millions of dollars into hydrogen-powered vehicles, despite major obstacles to the creation of a so-called hydrogen highway.


  • Eric

    This is hybridcars.com, right? Why are you displaying Chevy ads for full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs?

  • Oracle

    Troll elsewhere Eric. If you can’t understand a website’s need for advertising revenue to survive and spread its point of view, or if you object to its purity of purpose, get you information on hybrids elsewhere.

    kthxbye

  • netmdr

    Why is it considered pie in the sky when Iceland already did it!!!

  • babu flubber

    dude, start using Mozilla Firefox with adblocker instead of Internet Explorer, and you won’t have to endure any more ads. Let the IE users pay all the penance.

  • Brad

    Eric — I think it’s great that hybridcars.com is using advertising for a product that will most likely never be purchased from this site’s users. Let Chevy waste its giant, impractical, gas guzzling division advertising money. Give hummer a call while your at it.

    As for the article, solar –> electricity –> electric cars, because we have the infrastructure for electricity everywhere (mostly) in the US. Hydrogen only arguably occurs in CA, commendable, but not practical to build a completely new infrastructure. Stick to solar-voltaics, don’t try to build artificial plants for inefficient H2. Just my $0.02

  • John Jacangelo

    hey what about safari users,,,, u left them out

  • jilted

    thats a very fair but funny point!!!!!!!