Fusion too far in the future? Moving to the moon (or Mars) not an option? Nuclear a big fat no? Skeptical about the hydrogen hype?

Enter chemist Daniel Nocera. His goal: create a renewable energy source by using sunlight to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen.

From the AP (via Wired):

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There is a beautiful model for this: photosynthesis. Sunlight kickstarts a reaction in which leaves break down water and carbon dioxide and turn them into oxygen and sugar, which plants use for fuel.

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But plants developed this process over billions of years, and even so, it’s technically not that efficient. Nocera and other scientists are trying to replicate that — and perhaps improve on it — in decades.

Here is where he is today:

Nocera has performed the reaction with acidic solutions, but not water yet. The catalyst he used was a compound that included the expensive metal rhodium. To be a practical energy solution, it will have to be made from inexpensive elements like iron, nickel or cobalt.

Good luck Daniel!

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