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University of Basel

08 February 2016

Clean Energy From Water

Fuel cells generate electrical energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. To obtain clean energy, the splitting of water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen is critical. Researchers at the University of Basel study how sunlight can be used for this purpose. The scientific journal Chemical Communications published their latest results.

Developing clean and renewable sources of energy is one of the greatest challenges of our civilization. Artificial photosynthesis is one of the most promising approaches. This is when water is photo-electrochemically with the aid of sunlight separated into its components H₂ and O₂ and stored. When the chemical elements are later combined, electrical energy can be created. A team of researchers led by the University of Basel chemists Catherine Housecroft and Edwin Constable are working together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) to implement this method.

Sustainable fuel cells

The process of splitting water (H₂O) consists of two partial reactions, which are implemented with the help of different catalysts: water oxidation (which produces O₂) and water reduction (which produces H₂). The first is the more challenging of the two reactions, which is why research puts so much effort into the development of efficient and sustainable water oxidation catalysts.

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