To-date, solar power is a marginal, boutique alternative to mainstream energy but MIT researchers say they have overcome a major barrier to large-scale, cost-effective solar power: efficiently storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.
Solar power is currently a daytime-only energy source because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. MIT researchers say have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.
Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT 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.