Australia’s home improvement methods likely reached a new milestone in terms of energy production with the use of “solar paint”.
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s (RMIT) study found that using this kind of paint can be a source of clean energy, particularly hydrogen. Researchers claimed that the paint material contained synthetic molybdenum-sulphide and shared similar characteristics with silica gel.
The paint produces hydrogen through the compound it absorbs from the air, which then leads to a “splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen”. Whilst it shares the same component with silica gel, the new paint can break down the water atoms when applied to different structures, including walls, garden workshop sheds and roofs.
RMIT lead researcher Torben Daeneke said that the compound performs better when mixed with titanium oxide, a common ingredient use in normal wall paint. This mixture can transform an ordinary surface into something that can collect hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air.
Daeneke noted that the solar paint could be appropriate for covering walls that have little to no sunlight exposure, as these surfaces can validate the cost-efficient advantage of solar cells.
Other than producing hydrogen, the solar paint will reduce the energy industry’s dependence on fossil fuels, since nearly 95% of Australia’s hydrogen resources originate from these sources, according to fellow RMIT professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh.
In the meantime, Daeneke said that more tests are underway to optimise the paint’s hydrogen production rate. In the future, the researchers believe that it could be a viable and cheaper substitute for traditional photovoltaics, which involves the process of converting sunlight into electricity.
The discovery of the new paint supports not only the need to develop sustainable home materials, but also help in creating new ways to harvest clean sources of energy. We can all hope that the results of future tests will be positive and beneficial for everyone.