Water (H2O) is nothing more than a pair of hydrogen atoms attached to one of oxygen. Separating them requires a lot of energy, but it’s something that plants naturally do in photosynthesis, thanks to light. Achieving hydrogen (H2) in a clean, safe and cheap way is the key to the take-off of the fuel cell electric car, among other uses. Why not imitate plants?
A woman, a doctoral student in Cambridge (United Kingdom), became obsessed with the subject. There have been multiple attempts to emulate that everyday plant chemistry capable of growing mammoth trees from a seed to move trucks. But «natural photosynthesis is not efficient [for human use] because it has evolved simply so that plants can survive, convert and store a minimum amount of energy that does not even reach 2% of what it could», explains from Cambridge Katarzyna Sokół, researcher at St. John’s College, who has just presented in Nature a new method that mimics plants more efficiently. Or, more exactly, the algae.