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"Solar Paint" Can Change Your Home Into A Clean Energy Source

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How do you power your home? Most of us have wires running from a power station somewhere. Some have solar panels. Maybe some of you have a windmill or a really muscular hamster that spins a wheel attached to a generator. But in the future, unlimited power may be as simple as applying a fresh coat of paint to your house. It may sound like a fantasy, but a team of Scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are well on their way to making it a reality.

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Distinguished Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh and Dr Torben Daeneke with a pot of solar paint and a piece of glass with the paint applied.

A Fresh Coat

In today's quest for clean renewable energy, every material is being considered in hopes they can be reimagined as tomorrow's energy resources. Paint has been problematic in the past. It has been associated with waste in non-toxic forms. In the toxic variety, it has even triggered public health crises.

Lead by Dr. Torben Daeneke, the RMIT University team recently introduced a new type of paint made of a synthetic molybdenum-sulphide. The substance acts like a semiconductor that forces water atoms to divide into hydrogen and oxygen. It also acts like a silica gel—which you may recognize as those little beads sometimes slipped into food and medicine packaging to protect against moisture. Mixed with titanium oxide particles—the white particles already used in everyday house paint—the new paint is reportedly able to create a hydrogen fuel from a combination of moist air and solar energy.

Energy To Burn

Dr. Daeneke has high hopes for the new paint, and rightfully so, since it could convert the average brick wall into an energy harvester. The paint could be used in a variety of environments. In hot, dry climates, it could absorb nearby sea or ocean vapor to convert into fuel. It could even work its magic when applied to areas that without enough sunlight to power solar cells alone. The energy produced will be equally versatile, and would be ready for direct use in a fuel cell or combustion engine.

Perhaps best of all, the substance will be inexpensive enough to produce for widespread use in the near future (Daeneke's estimate is 5 years). In theory, by the time you're ready to give your home a proverbial "facelift," you could effortlessly create your own energy source at the same time. And that humidity you complain about every summer? In the future, you'll just think of it as nature's way of providing you with more clean fuel.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The problem with solar power is the cost and efficiency of harnessing it. 00:16

  2. Spray-on solar cells may be the future of solar power. 00:28

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