Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Solar fuels move into higher gear

The Emory Bio-inspired Renewable Energy Center (EBREC), aims to duplicate natural processes of photosynthesis, to generate clean, sustainable sources of solar fuel. Photo by Carol Clark.

The debut of the Zing Solar Fuels/Photochemistry Conference, set for Dec. 1-4 in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, is one more indicator that solar energy is hot.

“It’s a very fast-moving field,” says Emory inorganic chemist Craig Hill, co-chair of the new conference. “Things are moving so quickly, that the other major conferences aren’t frequent enough to keep up with the key technical advances.”

Hill is a leading developer of water oxidation catalysts, a crucial component to split water into oxygen and protons for the production of solar fuels. Other Emory chemists presenting at the conference include Tim Lian, who is researching quantum technology to absorb light and drive reactions; and Brian Dyer, who is researching microbial catalysis by the protein hydrogenase, to convert protons into hydrogen.

“It’s an extremely exciting time for solar fuels research,” says Hill, an internationally known pioneer of green chemistry. “Interest in solar energy is growing all over the world, and it’s becoming a priority for funding in almost every country that has a research establishment.”

The movement from fossil fuels to cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy “is not going to be a dramatic, abrupt event,” Hill adds. “It’s incremental change.”

Water oxidation advance aims at solar fuel
Bringing new energy to solar quest

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