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Analog solar panels are able to select from impurities in the hydrogen.

Experts call hydrogen the fuel of the future. It is much safer for the environment than petroleum products, and also widely distributed. It can be used as fuel for all vehicles from cars to missiles.

The main problem with using hydrogen is the cost of its production, storage and transportation. The most common today, the technology of hydrogen production, steam reforming and electrolysis of water, require expensive catalysts (e.g., for electrolysis using platinum). During storage and transportation of hydrogen is necessary to observe special precautions, since the mixing of hydrogen with air forms a highly explosive oxyhydrogen gas. All of this requires additional costs.

Therefore, scientists are working on new technologies for the production of hydrogen — available and simple . Researchers from the University of Antwerp and Catholic University of Leuven has developed a technique that allows to obtain hydrogen from impurities contained in urban air.

In the basis of development is the technology of photoelectrochemical cells, types of solar panels. The device consists of two compartments separated by a membrane. One volatile organic compound contained in polluted air, exposed to sunlight is converted to carbon dioxide using the photoanode of titanium dioxide. The hydrogen ions pass through the polymer electrolytic membrane in another compartment in which there is a photocathode. From there, the hydrogen is fed into the storage system. In the future it can be used as fuel.

The scheme of the device

According to the developers, their technology will not only open up an additional source of hydrogen for fuel, but will clean the air. Thus, the invention will solve two problems at once modern cities.

Article about the new development published in the journal ChemSusChem.

Previously, scientists have developed methods of producing hydrogen through artificial photosynthesis and genetic modification of algae.