Researchers have developed a solar paint that can absorb water vapor and split it to generate hydrogen, the cleanest source of energy.
The paint contains a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel, which is used in sachets to absorb moisture and keep food, medicine, and electronics cool and dry.
But unlike silica gel, the new material, synthetic molybdenum sulfide, also acts as a semiconductor, catalyzing the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen.
Lead researcher Dr Torben Daeneke, from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, said: "We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy. and humid air.
"Titanium oxide is the white pigment already commonly used in wall paint, which means that the simple addition of the new material can turn a brick wall into an energy harvester to produce fuel.
"Our new development has a wide variety of advantages," he said. "There is no need for clean or filtered water to power the system, anywhere that has water vapor in the air, even in remote areas far from water, can produce fuel."
His colleague Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh said that hydrogen was the cleanest source of energy and could be used in fuel cells as well as conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels.
"This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near the oceans. Sea water is evaporated by hot sunlight and the vapor can be absorbed to produce fuel," he says in a statement.