Scientists have created a window, capable of extracting the green fuel from the air

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Poloninskim of the new catalyst that can extract water from the air and decomposing to hydrogen and oxygenScientists have created a window, capable of extracting the green fuel from the air© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

. Physicists and chemists from Australia developed an unusual catalyst film which can «suck» water vapor from the air and decompose them into hydrogen and oxygen, said in an article published in the journal ACS Nano.

«Today the majority of scholars concentrate their efforts on creating systems and catalysts for splitting water in a liquid form. This approach imposes a lot of limitations and prevents the cost reduction of hydrogen and increase the efficiency of the catalysts. Many of these problems can be solved by decomposing water vapor, not its molecules in solutions and electrolytes,» said Deneke Torben (Torben Daeneke) from RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia).

In recent years physicists have created a variety of decomposers in water, which decompose the water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen using light or electric current, the most successful version which are just approaching commercial viability. In addition, these catalysts in most cases, or are destroyed or contaminated in the splitting of water, forcing scientists to develop not free methods of their regeneration.

Deneke and his colleagues have found a way to solve both these problems by experimenting with unusual catalysts based on compounds of molybdenum and sulfur. These substances how to tell the scientists, their colleagues have long been trying to adapt for the splitting of liquid water with light, but no one hitherto not studied how they behave on the air.

Studying the properties of molybdenum sulfide, the scientists noticed that this substance well absorbs water vapor from the air, which subsequently somewhere disappeared. Tracing the processes in crystals and molecules of the catalyst, the authors found that they can attach themselves to water molecules to «pull» from them oxygen and to highlight the pure hydrogen and oxygen when irradiated with light.

The rate of this extraction of water and its cleavage can be enhanced considerably by applying the nanoparticles molybdenum sulfide on the transparent and flat surface, such as glass. Following this idea, the researchers turned this catalyst in a translucent «paint» for Windows, infusing it with nanoparticles of titanium oxide.

Such coatings, as physicists say, can produce hydrogen at any conditions and anywhere on Earth where the Sun is shining and the air contains at least the minimum proportion of water vapor. The efficiency of such a «fuel window» can be improved by replacing nanoparticles of titanium on the particles of silicon or other semiconductors, better absorbing the light or by placing the catalyst molecules into a three-dimensional lattice, impervious to radiation of the star.

In addition to the production of renewable fuels, such as paint and other materials on the basis of the sulfide of molybdenum can be applied for high sensitive humidity sensors and dehumidification of air, working by themselves, without requiring an external source of energy and replacement of consumables.