A team of chemists at Yale University is working to increase the nation's energy supply through effective use of solar power under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program for basic research on solar energy utilization. Researchers at Yale and 12 other institutions will share $12.8 million over three years in the DOE Solar Energy to Chemical Fuels initiative.
Direct conversion of sunlight into chemical fuels is vital in order to overcome the problem of the day/night variation of the solar resource and to provide solar-derived energy in forms useful for transportation, residential and industrial applications, the university explains.
The Yale team expects that the research will provide a comprehensive molecular-level understanding of the structural and dynamical principles to achieve breakthroughs in efficiency of photocatalytic devices.
‘Development of cheap, robust and efficient photocatalytic cells for water cleavage with visible-light power will allow the production of chemical fuels using sustainable and economically viable resources,’ says project leader Gary Brudvig, professor and chair of the Yale department of chemistry. ‘This has been a goal of photoelectrochemistry research for more than three decades. Our challenge is to improve efficiency of solar energy utilization.’