The Earth’s climate is constantly changing by consequence of global warming. But what causes it? Humanity have developed new technologies to make people’s life easier, however, these technologies need a lot of raw materials. The exploit of lands to obtain these materials requires a lot of energy, producing pollution.
Once the main product is manufactured, it can only serve for one purpose and then it will be useless; the scrap is generally not reused, so it creates more pollution. After several studies, scientists and engineers who worry about this problem, have come to the idea of renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat.
The main solution that this revolutionary breakthrough offers is to make artificial leaves, just as it sounds. Solar panels as a renewable energy solution use heat and sunlight to produce energy, but when the sun goes down, it stops producing energy. This energy is stored with artificial leaves, a synthetic material capable of separating Hydrogen (H) and
Oxygen (O) with catalysts.
These catalysts, such as cobalt (Co), zinc (Zn), phosphorus (P), and nickel (Ni) are abundant and can be easily manufactured, though it is less expensive. In the end, hydrogen is stored in solid form and then it can be used as fuel. The process can be easily done by putting an artificial leaf in water and waiting for sunlight to come in. This improvement have shown that artificial photosynthesis can be about 10 times better than photosynthesis of an average plant.
A team of MIT researchers reported the development of a thermophotovoltaic device that could possibly be 80% times more efficient than common solar panels. The reason for this is that common solar cells just absorb energy from a fraction of sunlight’s color spectrum. The MIT scientists add carbon nanotubes components and nanophotonic crystals which concentrate energy from the sun, into a narrow band of light.
Crystals can heat up to 1000C; the nanotubes capture the entire color spectrum and remake the energy as light only in the band that photovoltaic cells can capture and convert. The big advantage of this technology is that the process is ultimately driven by heat and can operate through the day and night.
Even though solar paint may sound like the same concept as solar panels, it is not. It actually consists of chemical components, like light titanium oxide, that absorb moisture. Titanium particle absorbs sunlight and transforms it into electric energy. This catalyst has the ability to split water using the energy provided by the sun. Hydrogen is stored for later use. This actual process is compared with photosynthesis.This type of renewable energy will be cheaper than common solar panels. The solar paint has an increased efficiency and can cover extra surface to generate more energy. Energy efficient paining for your house.
The potential of Graphene for renewable energy systems
Since graphene has been discovered, scientists and engineers have put all their efforts to learn how this material can be used for renewable energies. Many researchers admit that graphene mixed with vanadium oxide can be used to develop high performance, cost-effective cathodes that can be recharged in 20 seconds and retain more than 90 percent of their capacity after extensive use.
Graphene can also replace platinum in solar cell electrodes with no loss of efficiency. New renewable technologies are closer than we think, it is a reality. Renewable energy brings a possible solution to energy problems. Governments are adapting the use of alternative energy and everyone can get benefit from it.