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Device converts air pollution into power


An innovative new device which can purify air as well as covert it into energy has been developed in Belgium.

The process pioneered by researchers at the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven (University of Leuven) just needs light to work.

“We use a small device with two rooms separated by a membrane,” said professor Sammy Verbruggen (UAntwerp/KU Leuven). “Air is purified on one side, while on the other side hydrogen gas is produced from a part of the degradation products. This hydrogen gas can be stored and used later as fuel, as is already being done in some hydrogen buses, for example. ”

The dual positives of clean air and alternative energy make this a game-changing breakthrough. Key to its success is the use of nanomaterials at the membrane level.

“These catalysts are capable of producing hydrogen gas and breaking down air pollution,” explained professor Verbruggen. “In the past, these cells were mostly used to extract hydrogen from water. We have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air.”

He added: “We are currently working on a scale of only a few square centimetres. At a later stage, we would like to scale up our technology to make the process industrially applicable. We are also working on improving our materials so we can use sunlight more efficiently to trigger the reactions.”

The study was published in ChemSusChem.

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