Researchers Develop Solar Paint That Turns Water Vapor Into Hydrogen
This reality is inching ever closer after researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia developed a "solar paint" capable of pulling water vapor from the air and splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen using energy provided by sunlight.
"Hydrogen is one of the cleanest fuels, since it turns into water when burned," Daeneke told ResearchGate. "Hydrogen can be used either in fuel cells or directly in combustion engines. The first hydrogen fueled cars and busses can already be found in some cities around the globe. The key advantage here is that no harmful side products are emitted. This can drastically reduce smog, which is a serious issue in today's megacities, and greenhouse gases if the hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources."
The paint contains a new, silica-gel-like compound—synthetic molybdenum-sulphide—that not only absorbs moisture from its surroundings but can also trigger chemical reactions that splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
"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," Daeneke 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."
The technology is also ideal because the hydrogen created by the solar paint is not produced by fossil fuels nor is a constant supply of clean water necessary.
"The technique we developed avoids the use of liquid water altogether," Daeneke explained to ResearchGate. "Instead, our system captures water vapor from air ... This avoids all of the issues arising from the use of liquid water."
Theoretically, the solar paint could be applied or sprayed onto any surface where water vapor is present. Even evaporated moisture from salty or waste water would be sufficient, Daeneke noted.
Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, a professor at RMIT, added that "this system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapor can then be absorbed to produce fuel."
Daeneke envisions that the paint could one day be used in conjunction with other renewable energy technologies.
"Photocatalytic paints may find application in multiple settings, one obvious one could be the local production of hydrogen as an energy carrier, side by side with photovoltaics generating renewable electricity," he told ResearchGate. "Further steps are necessary in order to fully see the scope of this technology. For example, our next targets are to incorporate this system together with gas separation membranes that will allow selectively harvesting and storing the produced hydrogen."
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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