Powering the Third World with Water and Sun
December 1, 2010
Sun Catalytix — an energy storage and renewable fuels company — founded by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, Daniel Nocera, has attracted funding from the wealthy Tata Group, a powerful Indian corporation known for it’s innovative Nano automobile, to develop a solar powered generator that would be
affordable to a large segment of rural poor throughout the third world.
Nocera and his colleagues announce a process two years ago that captured sunlight in manner similar to plant photosynthesis. A press release described the original discovery.
“Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.”
At the time, MIT produced a video that explained the discovery -
Since then, Nocera and Postdoc fellow Mathew Kanan have refined the process, discarding some of the more expensive exotic metals originally required.
The Business-Standard of India reported that Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover (a Tata company), is on the board of the new company, Ratan Tata, CEO of Tata Sons,
is a co-owner, and the group has pumped at least 9.5 million USD, and possibly much more, into the new company.
The system will be able to use water from any source, even waste water, to produce hydrogen and oxygen, which can be stored easily in tanks, and utilized as a power source for a fuel cell immediately, or during times when solar energy is not available.
Planning on a launch in the next 18 months, the group hopes to market a system that will suit the needs and budget of millions of homes and villages in India and the third world.