News reports are continually littered with the diminishing access to affordable electricity or better yet constant updates on the looming load shedding schedules that South Africans are challenged with on a daily basis. Today, every individual is on the lookout for technologies that will reduce the dependence on Eskom’s services, from solar powered geysers and solar powered roofing tiles, however, South African consumers need more appealing products in the market that decrease the reliance on electricity powered by Eskom.
A new invention out in Australia has made clean energy more appealing to the everyday consumer. A team of researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has developed a paint that can be used to generate clean energy; the paint combines the titanium oxide, which can already be found in many wall paints with a new compound: synthetic molybdenum-sulphide. This, in turn, acts a lot like what we may know as Silica gel, which is commonly used in consumer products to keep them free from any damage by acting as an agent that absorbs moisture.
According to a report on RMIT’s website, the material absorbs solar energy as well as moisture from the surrounding air. It can then split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, collecting the hydrogen for use in fuel cells or to power a vehicle. “[T]he simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate,” explained lead researcher Dr Torben Daeneke.
Now you’re thinking how does this impact the everyday lives of ordinary South Africans, how does this change how my house currently produces energy? Hydrogen Fuel cells; the Smithsonian Institute explains the following; Hydrogen is the basic fuel, but fuel cells also require oxygen. One great appeal of fuel cells is that they generate electricity with very little pollution–much of the hydrogen and oxygen used in generating electricity ultimately combine to form a harmless by-product, namely water. One detail of terminology: a single fuel cell generates a tiny amount of direct current (DC) electricity.
The purpose of a fuel cell is to produce an electrical current that can be directed outside the cell to do work, such as powering an electric motor or illuminating a light bulb or a city. Because of the way electricity behaves, this current returns to the fuel cell, completing an electrical circuit.”
For the product to be readily available in the market, it will take another five years for it to be commercially viable. Dr Daeneke claims that the paint will largely be cheap to produce and will also be effective in a variety of climates. “Any place that has water vapour in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.”
This product will definitely ease the way we use and require clean energy in our homes within the next few years.