Sustainability Problem: Mass adoption of Clean Energy Alternative
It took 60 years (1840-1900) for coal to rise from supplying 5% of global energy to 50%, dethroning wood. Oil took another 50 years (1915-1965) to beat coal, rising from 5% to 40% and more recently from 1930 to 1985, Natural Gas rose from 5% to 25% of global energy supply. Given how long these transitions take, it is important to invent, develop and market technologies in clean energy for mass adoption – considering the pace at which the world is grappling to avert catastrophic climate change.
Solution: A team of researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has developed a paint that can be used to generate clean energy.
- They developed a new compound that sucks water vapor from the air – much like those humidity-absorbing packets of silica gel one can find in many consumer products. But unlike silica, the new material (synthetic molybdenum-sulphide) also acts as a semiconductor and water-splitting catalyst, meaning that it takes water molecules and separates them into oxygen and hydrogen, a clean fuel source.
- The compound is made more effective when mixed with titanium oxide, a white pigment often found in house paint, which makes it easily applicable to a wide range of buildings – converting a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel producing real estate.
- This paint is likely to be effective in a variety of climates, from damp environments to hot and dry ones near large bodies of water.
- It can be used to cover areas that wouldn’t get enough sunlight to justify the placement of solar panels, maximizing the solar output. With this paint any surface can be painted — a fence, a garage, or a doghouse and transformed into an energy-producing structure.
Stakeholders: Policy makers (Green Building Codes), Real Estate Contractors, Paint Manufacturers and typically any home/office owner.
Deployment: Before the paint gets commercially viable in next five years:
- Paint manufacturers will have to collaborate with researchers to understand the technology and start aligning their manufacturing lines
- Policy plays a significant role in any city dynamics – effort should begin to include such paint in any new building codes including retrofit codes
- Awareness – researchers, paint industry (upstream and downstream) and government agencies should create awareness among residential and commercial building owners – not an expensive paint to use as an alternative, generates clean and cheap energy, an easy to use – mass adoption solution!