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Supercomputers Helped Scientist in Finding Economic way to Dissociate Hydrogen from Water

  • Uncategorized
  • Aug 11, 2021

A new step has been taken by researchers in the field of technology and computing. Researchers have discovered a new way through which they have successfully overcome key challenges for the production of inexpensive hydrogen. Scientists took the help of supercomputers to look for the material that is helpful in accelerating the separation process of hydrogen when water is exposed to light. The process is known as photocatalysis. Since these processes are very much sensitive, they should be carried out successfully. The use of solar energy to inexpensively harvest hydrogen from water is a huge task and could replace the carbon-based fuel sources and reduce the world's carbon footprint by a significant amount. The carbon emission is increasing day by day, and the need for hydrogen is highly required. However, it poses an extreme challenge to find such materials that helps in boosting the production of hydrogen.

In one study, a team of Penn State-led researchers reported that they took a step towards meeting the challenge of producing hydrogen economically by using supercomputers to find materials that could help accelerate the separation of hydrogen when exposed to water by a process called photocatalysis. Solar energy can be used to separate hydrogen from water, as water is made up of two atoms of hydrogen and one oxygen atom, according to Ismaila Dabo, associate professor of materials science and engineering. Using sunlight to generate electricity to produce hydrogen or electrolysis, which in turn would likely be converted back into electricity, may not make technical or economic sense. Hydrogen from water or photocatalysis avoids this additional step. Researchers are yet to be able to use direct solar hydrogen conversion to compete with carbon-based fuels such as gasoline.

They examined the compounds listed in the Materials Project Database, an online open-access repository of known and predicted materials. The team developed an algorithm to identify materials with properties that make them suitable photocatalysts for the hydrogen production process: ideal energy range or bandgap for materials to absorb sunlight. Close collaboration with Héctor Abruña, Professor of Chemistry at Cornell University; Venkatraman Gopalan, professor of materials science and technology at Penn State; and Raymond Schaak, professor of chemistry at Penn State; They also examined materials that can effectively dissociate water and offer good chemical stability.