‘Major discovery’ from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

– This sure looks like good news for alternative energy. Let’s hope it is for real and that the folks who control it don’t slow its introduction down by attempting to squeeze every last penny out of it. Let’s hope as well that big oil and coal don’t buy it up and bury it.

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In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today’s announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. “This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said MIT’s Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.”

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

More from MIT…

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One Response to “‘Major discovery’ from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution”

  1. MD says:


    I had seen some information about this a while back and found it very exciting. The bit I say was on the incredible efficiency of plants/trees in use of solar energy in the photosynthesis process. The idea was to try and find a way to replicate what plants did for the purpose of producing energy. The way plants do this is deep down at the molecular level. Seems that the scientists are on the verge of success.

    Regarding big oil, I think they will be happy about this. The large US oil companies such as Mobil have been, for some time now, migrating from oil exploration and development towards becoming full blown energy providers. They are into solar, wind, coal, oil, natural gas, etc. Not sure about nuclear but that is even possible.

    Hay good buddy, the world actually consists of colors beyond black and white. So, kick back, relax, chill down a bottle of chardonnay and let the good times role.