UK, U of L Researchers Working on New Technology to Produce Hydrogen From Sunlight

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have discovered an alloy that could possibly split water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar energy. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and supercomputer technology, Professors Madhu Menon and Michael Sheetz found that the alloy is a mixture of gallium nitride and a small amount of antimony.

Menon says he thinks the technology could someday be accessible to everyone and available on the open market.

“The Holy Grail that I’m envisioning is people can go to places like Home Depot and buy this and then put water in it and set it in the back yard and it will produce hydrogen. And they can collect it and use it for whatever they want.”

Sheetz says it’s now up to scientists at the University of Louisville to test their computational theory.

“The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so we’ll see. We have great hopes because the accuracy of computer modeling is such now that it is a method that can be very predictive.”

If successful, the alloy could lead to an environmentally-friendly process of producing hydrogen, which has several energy applications. Since publishing their findings in a research journal, Professors Menon and Sheetz say they have been contacted by other scientists and venture capitalists.