The looming environmental crisis is a double threat. Not only is our planet is warming due to our overuse of fossil fuels, but our water and air is also growing ever more polluted. Cleaning up the Earth will require tackling both of these issues.
But perhaps we can tackle both of these issues at the same time. One group of researchers at the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven think they've . The researchers that uses chemical reactions to purify the air of harmful pollutants and simultaneously produces hydrogen gas, which can be used as a fuel.
Typically, hydrogen gas is produced through a process called 'hydrolysis,' where an electrical current is run through water to split the molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Antwerp and Leuven team was using different nanomaterials to try and make the process more efficient when they discovered that their nanomaterial worked even better with polluted air.
The researchers built a two-sided device to maximize their nanomaterial's efficiency. On one side, the nanomaterial, titanium dioxide, splits apart a wide variety of organic pollutants using nothing but the power of the sun. On the other side, the energy generated from this reaction is used to produce hydrogen gas.
While the device is small and still in the early stages of testing, the researchers are confident they can scale up their design. In the near future, this tech could be used at an industrial scale to remove pollutants from the air before they can damage our lungs. The extra hydrogen gas is just a bonus.