HyperSolar, Inc. has reached an agreement with the University of California, Santa Barbara to move the company's technology closer to market viability.
The technology HyperSolar is developing is extraordinary -- using the sun and carbon dioxide and water to create renewable hydrogen and natural gas. How does the technology work?
In layman's terms the company describes its process as inspired by photosynthesis where by plants use the sun's energy for fuel. To replicate this, the Santa Barbara-based company is "developing a novel solar-powered nanoparticle system that mimics photosynthesis to separate hydrogen from water. The free hydrogen can then be reacted with carbon dioxide to produce methane."
Perhaps the most glaring benefit of what HyperSolar is developing is the cost to produce the renewable energy. Of the three feedstocks the technology requires to produce fuel, only one carries with it a cost: water. However, the company is developing a process to use wastewater in place of pure water. In this case, not only will the water come at no cost but it will also leave the process clean.
Professor Eric McFarland who will be leading the research project at UCSB highlighted this benefit saying "HyperSolar’s plan to use wastewater as a feedstock for hydrogen and methane production is a very promising approach. Our research team looks forward to applying our experimental knowledge to this very exciting and meaningful project.”
The hope is that the year-long agreement with UCSB will further refine HyperSolar's solar-powered nanoparticle technology. Specifically, the terms of the agreement call for the research team to complete four major milestones:
- A proof-of-concept heterostructure for hydrogen production using photovoltaic elements.
- Analysis of the feedstock potential of wastewater.
- A complete photoreactor prototype for sustained hydrogen production.
- Optimized nanoparticulate heterostructures using low-cost semiconducting materials.
HyperSolar CEO Tim Young is confident in the team and facilities UCSB offers his company's burgeoning technology.
“UCSB is world renown for its scientific accomplishments. “We are very excited about this opportunity to gain access to the talents and state-of-the-art facilities of one of the world’s top universities for scientific impact,” he said.
Natural gas is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the U.S. As the country debates the environmental impact of extracting the fuel from beneath the earth's surface, President Obama is throwing his support at expanding the natural gas infrastructure.
Most recently he announced $30 million in new funding to support the development of natural gas for vehicles. Using HyperSolar's technology to create natural gas would avoid the detrimental use of hydraulic fracturing while simultaneously cleaning wastewater at what seems to be a fraction of the cost.
Image Credit: Zero Emission Resource Organisation via Flickr
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