New catalyst offers efficient storage of alternative energies

By Marit Mitchell 

We can’t control when the wind blows and when the sun shines, so finding efficient ways to store energy from alternative sources remains an urgent research problem. Now, a group of researchers led by Professor Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering may have a solution inspired by nature.

The team has designed the most efficient catalyst for storing energy in chemical form, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, just like plants do during photosynthesis. Oxygen is released harmlessly into the atmosphere, and hydrogen, as H2, can be converted back into energy using hydrogen fuel cells.

“Today on a solar farm or a wind farm, storage is typically provided with batteries. But batteries are expensive, and can typically only store a fixed amount of energy,” says Sargent, a University Professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and vice-dean, research, for the Faculty. “That’s why discovering a more efficient and highly scalable means of storing energy generated by renewables is one of the grand challenges in this field.”

Read the rest of the story here: http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/saving-sunshine-rainy-day-new-catalyst-offers-efficient-storage-alternative-energies/