Environment Creating energy from thin air

Creating energy from thin air

In a remarkable first, a team of Australian gas giants has come up with a way to tap into the air we breathe to manufacture hydrogen gas — a zero-emissions fuel.

They’ve come up with a system that combines solar energy with pure water harvested from air.

Pioneered by The University of Newcastle Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and his team, the technique overcomes some of the key challenges limiting domestic production and availability of hydrogen fuel.

The technology harvests pure water from the air, then uses an electrical current generated from solar panels to split that water into hydrogen and oxygen before storing the hydrogen as a gas.

Professor Moghtaderi said the system could rapidly boost domestic hydrogen production capabilities.

“By harvesting water from the air we aren’t placing added pressure on water supplies for drinking and household use, which in climates like ours is a long-term consideration for viability,” he said.

“We’ve developed a scalable system. Our pilot plant demonstrator produces one kilo of hydrogen a day, however a commercial-scale system could produce thousands of kilos per day.”

Talks are underway to see the technology tested in cars.

The team is also involved in an initiative that would see the hydrogen combined with carbon dioxide taken from the air to manufacture methane that could be used to supplement the existing domestic gas supply.

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