Bioscience engineers at KU Leuven have created a solar panel that produces hydrogen gas from moisture in the air. After ten years of development, the panel can now produce 250 litres per day – a world record, according to the researchers. Twenty of these solar panels could provide electricity and heat for one family for an entire year.
Under a watery sun, Professor Johan Martens and his research team roll the solar panel onto the lawn in front of the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis at KU Leuven. The device looks like an ordinary solar panel. The engineers have attached a flask with water to the device so that we can see the hydrogen bubbles escape. A meter indicates the quantities. After a couple of seconds, the first bubbles begin to rise to the surface.
Hydrogen gas is an energy vector that can easily be stored and transported, and it can be converted at will into both electricity and heat. The gas doesn’t release any greenhouse gases or toxic substances, provided that you use clean energy to produce it. That’s what Professor Martens’s team ha