Rival schools work together to research energy efficiency

By Kortez Wilson

UK has recently been a teammate in more than just sports.

The University of Louisville and UK came together and shared a victory in making a discovery that can potentially have an impact on the world of solar energy.

UK’s Center for Computational Sciences and the U of L Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research found a “clean way to produce hydrogen without carbon emissions that pollute our air,” said Madhu Menon, one of the scientists working on the project.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the scientists have concluded that “an inexpensive semiconductor material can be ‘tweaked’ to generate hydrogen from water using sunlight,” according to a news release.

Menon said he hopes one day everyone can have access to the energy source.

Stephanie Schwabe, a former UK professor, said the outcome of the research was “amazing; so simple it hurts.”

The material has to be “marketable, cheap and must apply to most electrical requirements” to have a chance at success, she said.

Michael Sheetz, a scientist involved in the project, said as excited as the team of scientists were, hydrogen is expensive and dangerous. He also said there aren’t many plants where it is produced.

“Hydrogen requires lots of care because of its explosive potential,” Sheetz said, “and the cost is enormous due to hydrogen only being available in few places around the country, which means that transportation costs would be high.”

Sheetz said he hopes this device could be used in the backyard one day.

However, Schwabe said the use of the backyard is “not realistic” because it could be dangerous.

This energy source needs to be in a centralized location because people shouldn’t be generating their own energy, Schwabe said.

Schwabe was also quick to caution that giant hurdles needed to be cleared if this energy source were to ever have any success.

“The oil industry would be a major problem,” she said. “Money is a big question in order for this research to have any chance at competing with the oil industry one day.”