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.

Daniel Nocera

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.

4 Responses to “Powering the Third World with Water and Sun”

  1. g2-b31f1590b0e74a6d1af4639162aa7f3f Says:

    Apologies for the off-topic post, but I was browsing the Scripps Institution of Oceanography web-site and found this filed under “Best Bets for More Information” (linky: http://www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/climate/Best_Bets_For_More_Information/ )

    YouTube Channel: Debunking Climate Change Skeptics

    Peter Sinclair is a long time advocate of environmental awareness and energy alternatives. An award-winning graphic artist, illustrator, and animator, Mr. Sinclair runs Greenman Studio from his home in Midland, MI. His cartoons and illustrations have appeared in newspapers around the world, and his work has been profiled in numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Utne Reader, and HaAretz of Jerusalem.


    Apologies if you’ve already seen this, but the Scripps Institution of Oceanography thinks highly enough of your work to give you a shout-out on its web-site. Congrats!

  2. greenman3610 Says:

    right. I was really honored, that was one of the first world class scientific groups that noticed what I was doing. Now I count a number of world class scientists as supporters and advisors to this series.

  3. […] Daniel Nocera of MIT and his team announced this week the latest development in their quest for the holy grail of solar energy. […]

  4. […] Leaf update: An important step toward realizing the dream of an inexpensive and simple “artificial leaf,” a device to harness solar energy by splitting water molecules, has been accomplished by two […]

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