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Materials 2011, 4(12), 2073-2091; doi:10.3390/ma4122073
Received: 20 September 2011 / Revised: 25 October 2011 / Accepted: 15 November 2011 / Published: 30 November 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Materials for Water-Splitting)
Abstract: The idea of a “Hydrogen Economy” is that carbon containing fuels should be replaced by hydrogen, thus eliminating air pollution and growth of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, storage of a gas, its transport and reconversion to electricity doubles the cost of H2 from the electrolyzer. Methanol made with CO2 from the atmosphere is a zero carbon fuel created from inexhaustible components from the atmosphere. Extensive work on the splitting of water by bacteria shows that if wastes are used as the origin of feed for certain bacteria, the cost for hydrogen becomes lower than any yet known. The first creation of hydrogen and electricity from light was carried out in 1976 by Ohashi et al. at Flinders University in Australia. Improvements in knowledge of the structure of the semiconductor-solution system used in a solar breakdown of water has led to the discovery of surface states which take part in giving rise to hydrogen (Khan). Photoelectrocatalysis made a ten times increase in the efficiency of the photo production of hydrogen from water. The use of two electrode cells; p and n semiconductors respectively, was first introduced by Uosaki in 1978. Most photoanodes decompose during the photoelectrolysis. To avoid this, it has been necessary to create a transparent shield between the semiconductor and its electronic properties and the solution. In this way, 8.5% at 25 °C and 9.5% at 50 °C has been reached in the photo dissociation of water (GaP and InAs) by Kainthla and Barbara Zeleney in 1989. A large consortium has been funded by the US government at the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Nathan Lewis. The decomposition of water by light is the main aim of this group. Whether light will be the origin of the post fossil fuel supply of energy may be questionable, but the maximum program in this direction is likely to come from Cal. Tech.
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