Researchers from UCLA have designed a new type of device that is able to use solar power to create and store energy. The device efficiently creates and stores energy and could be used to power electronics like smartphones and create hydrogen fuel for cars.
The scientists think that the device could make hydrogen cars affordable because it can produce hydrogen using nickel, iron, and cobalt. Those elements are much cheaper and more abundant than the platinum and other precious metals used currently in hydrogen production.
The big push for hydrogen power is because it’s the cleanest fuel known to man according to Richard Kaner. It only puts water out as a byproduct. The scientists also think that the device could be a solution for large cities that need to store surplus electricity from the electrical grids.
The UCLA device has a third electrode along with the positive and negative electrodes common in hydrogen fuel cells and supercapacitors. That third electrode acts as a supercapacitor for storing energy and as a device for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The three electrodes connect to a solar cell serving as the primary power source. Kaner likens this breakthrough to the first time a phone, web browser, and camera were combined in a smartphone. There is no word on when the tech might be commercialized.