The busy centres of urban areas all over the world are becoming more polluted as their populations swell and traffic clogs the roads. London, for example, managed to exceed its yearly pollution limit just five days into 2017. But fear not! Science is here to help us.
A group of researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven have created a device that not only purifies polluted air but creates hydrogen gas, which just happens to be an excellent source of power, as a byproduct. The all-gas-phase photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell is pretty big news as it offers serious solutions to two current social concerns – cleaner air and a source of sustainable energy.
Of course, machines that produce hydrogen from water have been around for a few years, however as Professor Sammy Verbruggen of Antwerp/KU Leaven explains, “we have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air.”
The PEC cell contains a pair of chambers separated by a membrane wall – one side purifies the air while the other converts the degradation products to hydrogen gas. The whole device is a hand-held device and, best of all, the PEC cell is powered by solar energy! How’s that for super eco-friendly?