Toward home-brewed electricity with 'personalized solar energy'

November 4, 2009
A rooftop solar panel converts sunlight to electricity. In a new study, an expert describes progress toward an efficient and inexpensive method for storing and distributing solar energy in the home. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New scientific discoveries are moving society toward the era of "personalized solar energy," in which the focus of electricity production shifts from huge central generating stations to individuals in their own homes and communities.

That's the topic of a report by an international expert on solar energy scheduled for the November 2 issue of ACS' Inorganic Chemistry.

It describes a long-awaited, inexpensive method for solar that could help power homes and plug-in cars in the future while helping keep the environment clean.

Daniel Nocera explains that the global energy need will double by mid-century and triple by 2100 due to rising standards of living world population growth. Personalized solar energy - the capture and storage of solar energy at the individual or home level - could meet that demand in a sustainable way, especially in poorer areas of the world.

The report describes development of a practical, inexpensive storage system for achieving personalized solar energy. At its heart is an innovative catalyst that splits into oxygen and hydrogen that become fuel for producing electricity in a fuel cell.

The new oxygen-evolving catalyst works like , the method plants use to make energy, producing clean energy from sunlight and water. "Because energy use scales with wealth, point-of-use solar energy will put individuals, in the smallest village in the nonlegacy world and in the largest city of the legacy world, on a more level playing field," the report states.

More information: "Chemistry of Personalized ", Inorganic Chemistry, http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/ic901328v

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

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david_42
2 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2009
The described process doesn't appear to have anything to do with energy storage. Although the leading paragraphs talk about potential applications, the process is a new approach to photo-catalystic electrolysis. News-worth in an of itself.
jonnyboy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2009
The point of the process is that you CAN store hydrogen readily whereas electricity storage is very problematic.
robbor
not rated yet Nov 04, 2009
during the day electrolysis takes place, at night the hydrogen is consumed by a fuel cell, the next day the process repeats
Arkaleus
not rated yet Nov 05, 2009
Pie in the sky may look like a treat, but it's not something you can eat.

Any millionaire can install this system today, and it will work exactly as described here. Full solar systems start around $25,000 installed, hydrogen catalytic water cracker and pressurized storage tanks around (guessing around $15,000), and then on top of that the fuel cells ($30,000?).

So for more than an average person spends on electricity in his lifetime, he can generate his own power! This is an example of "new" green math. By spending more, the earth is saved!

The only person who would really benefit from this (let alone afford it) would be reverend Gore and his Tennessee plantation.

ac04605
not rated yet Nov 10, 2009
I agree with Arkaleus. I did some personal research to find out how much it would cost for my wife and myself to install a solar system to meet our needs. I researched traditional systems for Virginia and found that in order for the system to actually pay itself off in comparison with our average electric bill, we would need to have it for 19 years. I thought that was rather ridiculous. I have read several articles about solar systems getting less expensive, but until the government offers significant help in purchasing them, they don't seem to offer any benefit for use in the home.

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