To meet the demand for both hydrogen and electricity, UCLA invented an exclusive device that produces both utilizing solar power. The supercapacitor hydrogen fuel cell hybrid is very helpful in storing energy and to provide power to devices like computers and smartphones as well as they can give a boost to hydrogen powered cars in the future.
"People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices," said Richard Kaner, professor of chemistry, biochemistry, materials science and engineering. "Now it has been made possible to make both fuel and electricity with a single gadget."
It is a much cheaper solution compared to other hydrogen technologies as it uses metals like nickel, iron and cobalt, which are available more in quantity than the precious metals that are generally used. This would be a major step that could lead to lowering the cost of hydrogen cars, which are presently far more expensive than internal combustion engine or electric cars.
This could become a turning point for accommodating large energy storage solution for cities. On a much larger scale the gadget have the capacity to provide both electricity and act as energy storage, balancing out power load of the grid. When it is converted to hydrogen, the energy can be stored indefinitely.
This technology makes use of a much cleaner process than the usual methods for producing hydrogen. For this process generally natural gas is used, which results in carbon dioxide emissions. This device on the other hand uses solar power to split the water molecules resorting to a whole new approach.
Researchers had designed the electrodes in a pattern that the nanoscale exposes the greatest amount of surface area to the water. The electrodes are thousands of times thinner than the thickness of a human hair. If more water that comes in contact with the electrodes, greater amount of hydrogen is produced. This gives boost to the energy that can be stored in the supercapacitor.