Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Understanding the Science of Solar-Based Energy: More Researchers Are Better Than One

A snapshot showing the new oxygen catalyst in action in Dan Nocera's laboratory at MIT.

Credit: MIT/NSF
A snapshot showing the new oxygen catalyst in action in Dan Nocera's laboratory at MIT.

Credit: MIT/NSF

Abstract:
NSF-funded Chemical Bonding Center project provides a new approach for harnessing the sun's energy

Understanding the Science of Solar-Based Energy: More Researchers Are Better Than One

Arlington, VA | Posted on August 28th, 2008

With the assistance of a five-year $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Chemical Bonding Center (CBC) project, called "Powering the Planet," will increase the number of its collaborators to fulfill its goal of efficiently and economically converting solar energy and water into hydrogen and oxygen fuels.

The hydrogen and oxygen gases produced will be usable by a fuel cell, where they will react to reform water, generating electricity for powering an electric car or other devices. The gases may also be used as a source of energy after the sun goes down, and will generate a carbon-neutral or oil-free source of energy scalable to meet future global energy demands.

One of the center's key goals is to enhance U.S. economic competitiveness in the area of renewable energy.

"We have a very talented and dedicated group of students who are ready and able to tackle the fundamental chemistry problems that must be solved before it will be feasible to produce clean solar fuels on a large scale," said Harry B. Gray, Arnold O. Beckman professor of chemistry at Caltech and leader of the CBC. "We already have several industrial partners, and we intend to add more, as we want to move the new materials and processes invented by our center into the commercial arena as rapidly as possible."

More than 17 researchers and their students from 12 institutions located throughout the U.S. and Switzerland participate in the CBC.

The center is focusing its research efforts on developing a nanoscale-sized system that captures sunlight and converts it to an electrical charge. The interaction of the system's electrical charge and an oxygen catalyst produce oxygen gas and positively charged hydrogen ions or protons from water. The electrical charge, in combination with a hydrogen catalyst and protons, produces hydrogen gas.

"These transformations will require the development of new models for understanding multiple electron and proton transfer reactions and catalyst design," said Luis Echegoyen, director of NSF's Division of Chemistry.

The center has already obtained significant research results.

Daniel G. Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus professor of energy and professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one of the center's collaborators, recently announced that he and his postdoctoral associate, Matthew W. Kanan, successfully developed a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water.

In use with an electrical conducting glass electrode, the new catalyst, made from the earth-abundant materials cobalt and phosphate, produces oxygen gas from neutral pH water using a relatively low potential at room temperature and pressure (see video).

Even though the catalytic reaction is still not yet fully understood, its discovery moves the center one step closer to reaching its goal of using the sun's energy and water as a renewable energy source.

Nocera's and Kanan's research was published in the July 31, 2008, online issue of the journal Science.

"I strongly support Chemistry's CBC program as a way to tackle grand challenge problems with potentially transformative societal impacts such as sustainable energy. The Nocera work and the 'Powering the Planet' Center is an excellent example of this," said Tony Chan, assistant director for NSF's Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate.

Phase I of the CBC was established in 2005 when Caltech and MIT were awarded a $1.5 million three-year grant for initial research efforts and for establishing their CBC's management, education, broadening participation and public outreach plans. Caltech's CBC was one of the three Phase I CBCs funded by NSF in 2005 and the only CBC to receive 2008 Phase II funding.

Funding for Caltech's CBC was provided by award 0802907. The CBC is eligible for a $20 million five-year renewal in 2013.

####

About National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $6.06 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,900 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contacts
Jennifer A. Grasswick
NSF
(703) 292-4972


Joshua A. Chamot
NSF
(703) 292-7730


Kathy Svitil
California Institute of Technology
(626) 395-8022


Program Contacts
Katharine J. Covert
NSF
(703) 292-4950


Principal Investigators
Harry B. Gray
California Institute of Technology
(626) 395-6500

Copyright © National Science Foundation

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

View a video of MIT scientists explaining how they recently discovered a catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water.

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

International research team uses wavefunction matching to solve quantum many-body problems: New approach makes calculations with realistic interactions possible May 17th, 2024

Aston University researcher receives £1 million grant to revolutionize miniature optical devices May 17th, 2024

NRL charters Navy’s quantum inertial navigation path to reduce drift April 5th, 2024

Discovery points path to flash-like memory for storing qubits: Rice find could hasten development of nonvolatile quantum memory April 5th, 2024

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Energy

Development of zinc oxide nanopagoda array photoelectrode: photoelectrochemical water-splitting hydrogen production January 12th, 2024

Shedding light on unique conduction mechanisms in a new type of perovskite oxide November 17th, 2023

Inverted perovskite solar cell breaks 25% efficiency record: Researchers improve cell efficiency using a combination of molecules to address different November 17th, 2023

The efficient perovskite cells with a structured anti-reflective layer – another step towards commercialization on a wider scale October 6th, 2023

Grants/Sponsored Research/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Aston University researcher receives £1 million grant to revolutionize miniature optical devices May 17th, 2024

Discovery points path to flash-like memory for storing qubits: Rice find could hasten development of nonvolatile quantum memory April 5th, 2024

Chemical reactions can scramble quantum information as well as black holes April 5th, 2024

Discovery of new Li ion conductor unlocks new direction for sustainable batteries: University of Liverpool researchers have discovered a new solid material that rapidly conducts lithium ions February 16th, 2024

Solar/Photovoltaic

Development of zinc oxide nanopagoda array photoelectrode: photoelectrochemical water-splitting hydrogen production January 12th, 2024

Shedding light on unique conduction mechanisms in a new type of perovskite oxide November 17th, 2023

Inverted perovskite solar cell breaks 25% efficiency record: Researchers improve cell efficiency using a combination of molecules to address different November 17th, 2023

Charged “molecular beasts” the basis for new compounds: Researchers at Leipzig University use “aggressive” fragments of molecular ions for chemical synthesis November 3rd, 2023

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project