That means it could be used to store renewable energy, power portable electronics or drive electric vehicles. Graphene is a new wonder material, a variant of graphite or carbon organized into layers just one atom thick. "It is almost at the stage of moving from the lab to commercial development," says Li.
And in the same journal, a team from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the United States report that they have a technique to concentrate sunlight and use it to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen: These two in combination provide the energy for hydrogen fuel cells that have already begun to power public transport in many cities.
The Boulder technique employs a towering array of mirrors focused on a single point to heat a metal oxide reactor to 1,350° Celsius (or 2,462º Fahrenheit, about the melting point of carbon steel) and set up a chain of atomic-scale events which grabs oxygen atoms from steam, releasing the hydrogen molecules.
"Splitting water with sunlight is the Holy Grail of a sustainable hydrogen economy," said Alan Weimer, leader of the Boulder research group. But commercial introduction could be years away. "With the price of natural gas so low, there is no incentive to burn clean energy."
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.