ScienceDaily (May 26, 2011) — A team of researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and the University of Auckland (New Zealand) uses ethanol and sunlight to generate hydrogen as an energy source.
An economical process based on renewable resources Until now, solar-generated hydrogen techniques have largely relied on water. However, despite water being cheap and abundant, these techniques have garnered poor results and the materials they require are expensive. As an alternative, the researchers suggest using ethanol, a renewable and economical resource that is easily obtained from agricultural and forest waste (100 grams of glucose generate approximately 50 grams of ethanol).
The photocatalyst is also much cheaper and simpler to use than the materials employed in techniques with water as it uses very small gold particles, ranging in size from 2 to 12 nanometres (1 metre = 1 million nanometres). These nanoparticles capture the free electrons generated when titanium oxide -- used as a support base -- comes into contact with sunlight