Research teams such as the University of Tokyo have succeeded in an experiment to safely extract high-purity hydrogen on a scale of 100 square meters by utilizing the function of a "photocatalyst" that decomposes water into hydrogen and oxygen by exposing it to sunlight. ..

Since wide-ranging experiments are unprecedented, it is expected to be a result that will lead to technology for producing hydrogen in large quantities and at low cost, which is attracting attention as next-generation energy.

The successful experiments were made by research teams such as NEDO = New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization and the University of Tokyo and Shinshu University, which were announced in the international scientific magazine "Nature" in August.

The research team is working on technological development using substances that decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen by utilizing the function of "photocatalyst" that absorbs sunlight and promotes the chemical reaction of substances.

What I tried this time was to set up a panel with this substance attached outdoors, pour water, and pass only hydrogen through a perforated membrane from a gas that is a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen generated by receiving sunlight. It has been carried out for about two years since I was an adult in the extraction experiment.

Hydrogen is a gas that is difficult to handle because it burns or explodes when it comes in contact with fire in combination with oxygen, but as a result of experiments, more than 70% of the generated hydrogen could be safely extracted with a high purity of about 94%. about it.

According to the research team, it is the first time in the world to succeed in extracting hydrogen on a scale of 100 square meters, and while it can be expected to lead to technology for producing hydrogen in large quantities and at low cost, it is a new substance for more efficient extraction. It is said that the development of is an issue for practical use.

A member of the research team, Kazunari Doun, a special professor at the University of Tokyo, said, "This large-scale experiment was unprecedented in the world due to the danger of explosion, but we thought of a safe way to handle it and developed the device early. I want to put it to practical use and provide a large amount of cheap hydrogen to the world. "

What is a photocatalyst?

A "photocatalyst" is a substance that accelerates the chemical reaction of surrounding substances when exposed to light.

As a typical substance, "titanium oxide" used in white paints and cosmetics is well known.

Since the discovery of the mechanism that decomposes water into hydrogen and oxygen when exposed to ultraviolet rays, "titanium oxide" has also been applied to the decomposition of organic substances, removing dirt and odors, as well as obtaining antibacterial action. The technology of "photocatalyst" is widely used in daily life.

The characteristics of hydrogen

Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen does not emit carbon dioxide when burned.

In addition, hydrogen can be extracted by "electrolyzing" water.

These characteristics lead to "decarbonization", and even if surplus electricity is generated, if a technology to extract hydrogen from water by "electrolysis" is established, the surplus electricity can be converted to hydrogen and stored. Will also be possible.

On the other hand, the problem is that the production cost of hydrogen is higher than that of natural gas, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry aims to realize a "decarbonized society". By 2050, the price of hydrogen will be reduced to 5 minutes by technological innovation. We have set a goal of 1 or less.

What is the current state of hydrogen "manufacturing"?

Most of the hydrogen supplied in the world is produced by extracting it from fossil fuels such as natural gas.

However, since carbon dioxide is also generated in the manufacturing process with this method, it is necessary to combine it with technology such as recovery and burying in the ground for "decarbonization".

For this reason, in the future, technology that uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen without producing carbon dioxide will be important.

Currently, the most promising is the development of a "water electrolyzer" that "electrolyzes" water to extract hydrogen, and technological development is underway in Japan and overseas.

Keywords: sunlight, water, function, substance, photocatalyst, university of tokyo, experiment, hydrogen, development, mixture, oxygen, cost, scale, adult, purity