Forget roof-mounted solar panels that turn part of your home into a clean energy source. The new phase of solar operates under more of a “go big or go home” angle. That’s because a new solar paint can make every exterior wall of your house a source of clean, renewable energy. Futurism reports that a team of researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia has created a paint that can generate hydrogen fuel from sunlight and moist air. Not quite ready for the shelves at Home Depot, the team does anticipate the paint to be available for sale within the next five years.
So whether it’s a gorgeous, sunny day or humid as can be, your house would be a source of clean energy that could power all your appliances, climate control, and lights.
The process is simple: The paint is made of titanium oxide and a new compound, synthetic molybdenum-sulphide. That mouthful mimics the properties of the silica gel bags that come with new pairs of sneakers and other products to wick away moisture.
Synthetic molybdenum-sulphide absorbs solar energy from the air before splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be collected in fuel cells for a home, or even to power a car, truck, boat, or ATV. Is this not the coolest news?
“We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air,” said the group’s lead researcher, Dr. Torben Daeneke. “Titanium oxide is the white pigment that is already commonly used in wall paint, meaning that the simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate."
“Our new development has a big range of advantages,” he added. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.” Plus, the paint would be significantly cheaper than solar panels, Daeneke told Inverse.
Daeneke’s colleague, Distinguished Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, echoed the lead researcher’s sentiments, noting that hydrogen is the cleanest energy source around and can be used as a perfect replacement for fossil fuels.
“This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans,” Kalantar-zadeh said. “The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapor can then be absorbed to produce fuel. This is an extraordinary concept – making fuel from the sun and water vapor in the air.”
The research team’s results were published as "Surface Water Dependent Properties of Sulfur Rich Molybdenum Sulphides – Electrolyteless Gas Phase Water Splitting” in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society. If your house (or fence, garage, or birdhouse) is almost ready for a fresh coat of paint, you may want to hold off just a few more years, so that when you do pick out a fresh color, it’s one that will also provide all the energy your dwelling requires.