Chemistry of Personalized Solar Energy
Daniel G. Nocera
Department of Chemistry, 6-335, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4307
Inorg. Chem., 2009, 48 (21), pp 10001-10017
Publication Date (Web): September 23, 2009
Copyright 2009 American Chemical Society
Daniel G. Nocera is the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry, Director of the Solar Revolutions Project, and Director of the Eni Solar Frontiers Center at MIT. He studies the chemistry of renewable energy. He has discovered a solar fuel process that captures many of the elements of photosynthesis outside the leaf. his recent efforts are devoted to bringing personalized, carbon-neutral energy to the poor and those of the nonlegacy world.
Personalized energy (PE) is a transformative idea that provides a new modality for the planet's energy future. By providing solar energy to the individual, an energy supply becomes secure and available to people of both legacy and nonlegacy worlds and minimally contributes to an increase in the anthropogenic level of carbon dioxide. Because PE will be possible only if solar energy is available 24 h a day, 7 days a week, the key enabler for solar PE is an inexpensive storage mechanism. HY (Y = halide or OH-) splitting is a fuel-forming reaction of sufficient energy density for large-scale solar storage, but the reaction relies on chemical transformations that are not understood at the most basic science level. Critical among these are multielectron transfers that are proton-coupled and involve the activation of bonds in energy-poor substrates. The chemistry of these three italicized areas is developed, and from this platform, discovery paths leading to new hydrohalic acid- and water-splitting catalysts are delineated. The latter water-splitting catalyst captures many of the functional elements of photosynthesis. In doing so, a highly manufacturable and inexpensive method for solar PE storage has been discovered.
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