It is pretty rare that an announcement of an advancement in green technology creates a stir in the world of online journalism, but MIT’s Daniel Nocera made it happen yesterday. Most green technology news is rarely monumental and may garner some interest from science-y blogs, but this story has been covered by multiple sources. A professor of chemistry, Nocera has discovered a catalyst that can split water molecules and generate hydrogen for fuel cells. Nocera’s discovery is monumental because the catalyst is made of cheap and abundant materials and, when coupled with the sunlight captured by solar cells, can create a system that generates energy during the day and night. The ability to mimic photosynthesis at an efficient, inexpensive, and safe level is the product of 25 years of work.
Karsten Meyer, a professor of chemistry at Friedrich Alexander University, calls the discovery “simply groundbreaking. Nocera has probably put a lot of researchers out of business.” And with regards to the solar power field, “This is probably the most important single discovery of the century.”
The seemingly slow scientific attack on climate change may have many people (myself included) frustrated, but Nocera’s work shows that there is powerful foresight in the research community.
And now, best quote ever props goes to Nocera himself who said, “For the last six months, driving home, I’ve been looking at leaves, and saying, ‘I own you guys now.'”