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Solar paint could turn our homes into energy sources

Posted on 26 February 2018.

Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology in Melbourne have developed paint that can produce energy. The recipe? Water vapor, a little sunshine and a brand new material.

What if the walls of our homes could produce energy? Following Tesla’s solar tiles, make way for solar paint! Developed by two researchers, Torben Daeneke and Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia, it absorbs sunlight and ambient humidity, transforming the water vapor into hydrogen and therefore ultimately into energy.
The solar paint combines titanium oxide, already used in many paints to absorb sunlight, with a brand new material, synthetic molybdenum-sulfide. It also acts as a semi-conductor and catalyzes the splitting of water atoms into oxygen and hydrogen - which can then be converted into fuel for batteries or vehicles. Solar energy feeds the whole process.

Clean energy

"[...] This new material can transform a brick wall into an energy collection and fuel production system," explains Torben Daeneke, lead researcher on this project. His colleague, Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, adds that hydrogen is the cleanest source of energy in the world.

According to the two researchers, their innovation has some important advantages. Solar paint could be used in places that receive too little light to justify the expensive installation of traditional photovoltaic panels. In addition, it could work successfully in a variety of climates, and therefore in many parts of the world. "Any place where there is water vapor in the air, even in areas far from water sources, could produce fuel," says the RMIT. Finally, if it has a surface that can be painted, any construction - a wall, fence, gate, garden shed or even a dog kennel – can be transformed into an energy producing structure.
It will take at least five years for Torben Daeneke and Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh to develop a marketable version of their work. But they are already saying it will be cheap to produce and so will be a source of cheap energy. Once on the market, it will join the growing list of innovative technologies powering our homes with clean energy.