Seawater Offers a Brand New Way to Produce Clean Energy

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 - 4:52PM
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016 - 4:52PM
Seawater Offers a Brand New Way to Produce Clean Energy
As the world starts to move away from using fossil fuels towards cleaner and greener forms of energy, there seems to be more and more alternatives arising from somewhat unlikely sources. For instance, scientists have just found a way to use seawater as a clean and renewable energy source.

By utilizing sunlight, scientists have found that they can turn seawater into hydrogen peroxide (H202), a chemical compound that can then be used to generate electricity in fuel cells. One of the researchers responsible for this new study had this to say about their new find:

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Utilization of solar energy as a primary energy source has been strongly demanded to reduce emissions of harmful and/or greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels. However, large fluctuation of solar energy depending on the length of the daytime is a serious problem. To utilize solar energy in the night time, solar energy should be stored in the form of chemical energy and used as a fuel to produce electricity
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Some may be asking why seawater? Couldn't freshwater work just as well? The answer to that is a firm "no," as gaseous hydrogen production from pure water has a lower solar energy conversion and turns out to be much more difficult to store and transport. For a comparison, one of the tests conducted showed that after 24 hrs, the H202 concentration in seawater reached 48 millimolar; the concentration in pure water only reached 2 millimolar. Researchers found that the negatively charged chlorine in the seawater was responsible for why seawater is such an effective method.  

The process works using something called a photocatalytic method, one of the first techniques to make H202 production a legitimate option, seeing as how other ways of making H202 requires a good deal of energy as well. This process takes a new photoelectrochemical cell developed to make H202 when the sun shines on the photocatalyst, which then takes in photons and begins certain chemical reactions, essentially creating H202.

Though the researchers say they are currently planning to develop a way for low cost and large scale production of H202 of seawater, the process of creating energy still isn't quite as efficient as other methods of producing solar power. However, this is certainly another big step forward as the world moves away from fossil fuels and closer to greener energy sources.
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