MIT Energy Storage Discovery Could Lead to 'Unlimited' Solar Power

October 25th, 2008
Written by Andrew Williams

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have
discovered a new way of storing energy from sunlight that could lead
to `unlimited' solar power.

The process, loosely based on plant photosynthesis, uses solar energy
to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. When needed, the gases
can then be re-combined in a fuel cell, creating carbon-free
electricity whether the sun is shining or not.

According to project leader Prof. Daniel Nocera, "This is the nirvana
of what we've been talking about for years. Solar power has always
been a limited, far-off solution. Now, we can seriously think about
solar power as unlimited and soon."

Nocera has also explained that the process (video) uses natural
materials, is inexpensive to conduct and is easy to set up. "That's
why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

Other prominent scientists in the field have rushed to highlight the
revolutionary potential of the new process. According to James Barber,
biochemistry professor at Imperial College London, this research is a
`giant leap' towards generating clean, carbon-free energy on as
massive scale. In a statement, he also said:

"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future
prosperity of humankind. The importance of their discovery cannot be
overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies
for energy production, thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels
and addressing the global climate change problem."

No news has yet been released of a predicted timescale to commercial
development or mainstream adoption. However, Nocera has said that he's
hopeful that within 10 years homes will no longer be powered using
electricity-by-wire from a central source. Instead, homeowners will be
able to harness solar power during daylight hours and use this new
energy storage method for electricity at night.