Friday, August 1, 2008

MIT makes solar energy breakthrough

Jul 31 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News -

Christine McConville BostonHerald

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they'vediscovered a new way to store solar energy so that the non-polluting powercan heat homes even when the sun isn't shining. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," saidDaniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT.Nocera and Matthew Kanan, an MIT postdoctoral fellow, made the discovery,which has set the science and clean energy industries abuzz.Amid the world's broadening energy crisis, scientists have been looking tothe sun as a possible solution.According to Nocera, in just one hour enough sunlight strikes the earth toprovide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.But until now, the sun has been a daytime-only energy source. Storing extrasolar energy for later use has been prohibitively expensive.Nocera and Kanan say they have found a way to use the sun's energy to splitwater into hydrogen and oxygen gases.With this technique, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuelcell to create carbon-free electricity, which may be used to heat a home orlight up a building.