Clean Power natural gas from sunlight co2 water

Published on November 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Renewable Natural Gas from CO2, Water, & Sunlight

November 25th, 2011 by  

HyperSolar has filed a patent application for a “breakthrough technology” that creates renewable natural gas from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

natural gas from sunlight co2 water

“This renewable natural gas is a clean, carbon-neutral methane gas that can be used as a direct replacement for traditional natural gas to power the world, without drilling or fracking, while mitigating CO2 emissions,” the company reports.

Well, it certainly sounds good.

Is it legit?

We’ll have to wait to find out, but here’s more from the news release:

“Inspired by the photosynthetic processes that plants use to harness the power of the sun to create energy molecules, HyperSolar is developing a novel solar-powered nanoparticle system that mimics photosynthesis to separate hydrogen from water. The free hydrogen can then be reacted with carbon dioxide to produce methane, the primary component in natural gas.”

The company certainly thinks it’s on the money. “We intend to focus all our energies and resources on commercializing this breakthrough technology,” HyperSolar CEO Tim Young announced.

Good luck to the patent reviewers — the title is “Photoelectrochemically active heterostructures, methods for their manufacture, and methods and systems for producing desired products.” The patent application “discloses the company’s novel low cost manufacturing techniques, nanostructure innovations for high efficiency, and the use of freely available sunlight, waste water and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen, methane, and other valuable chemical products,” the company reported in a second news release.

More from Young:

For almost a century, scientists have tried and failed to ‘split water’ cost effectively to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Our process does not produce oxygen (O2), which has no significant value and is an expensive and slow reaction. Unlike conventional electrolysis, where hydrogen and oxygen atoms are completely disassociated using a large voltage, we designed our reactions to use a very small voltage and only produce hydrogen (H2).

By elegantly engineering the reaction kinetics toward hydrogen generation in conjunction with wastewater, our nanoparticles function as one-way machines that detoxify wastewater, and produce clean water and pure hydrogen in the presence of sunlight…. No other energy source is required, making this an extremely economical and commercially viable approach to hydrogen production — hence, renewable natural gas production.

The whole process occurs at a normal temperature and pressure.

“To achieve world scale operation, HyperSolar envisions acres of very inexpensive reactors installed on vacant, non-productive land, producing massive amounts of carbon neutral methane that can be piped into the existing natural gas infrastructure for everyday use in homes, power plants, factories, and vehicles.”

Breakthrough? Might be. I’ll be keeping my eye on HyperSolar.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Seems like Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has created small toys that are powered by hydrogen split off from water molecules using solar energy – why can’t this be done on a bigger scale?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Using electricity to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen in order to get usable hydrogen is, so far, too inefficient to be affordable.

  • Pingback: HyperSolar Develops Solar Powered Hydrogen Generator()

  • The Department of Energy has sponsored research into RSOFC (reversible solid oxide fuel cells) which do exactly what this article talks about. Yes, nanotechnology would be included in the research. However, how anyone can patent this technique that is paid for, at least in part, by our tax dollar is beyond me. Sounds like profiteering to me.

    Beyond that, to take the hydrogen contained in water and replace the oxygen in carbon dioxide and not have oxygen remain as a byproduct is inconceivable. Also, to say that O2 is of no value is insane, even if simply dumped into the atmosphere. But consider this, pure oxygen sells for a pretty penny to hospitals, people with emphysema, and welding shops all over the place. Even NASA uses Oxygen in their rockets.

    I am more incline to believe the new claims for cold fusion (google LENR, NASA LENR, LANR, and E-cat for more info.), than I am to believe this article. I do, however, believe that the DoE sponsered research into the subject and that RSOFC’s do work to create CH4 from CO2, H2O, and Electricity from PC Cells.

    • Jpisciot

      The big question is where are the ELECTRONS needed for the reduction of CO2 to coming from?

      They mention wastewater treatment so it sounds like they are just trotting out a Microbial Electrolysis Cell with the voltage boost by PV panel. – If the electrons are from organic matter then this is not new. If electrons are from H20, it could be exciting!

      Also, why waste your valuable Hydrogen to make Methane which is already abundant and cheap?

  • Ed

    This sounds like a promising technology. Like Bob I’m a bit curious about where they get the amount of CO2 needed. I am also a bit concerned with the claim that they only produce H2 and not H by design, when Hydrogen is a naturally occurring diatomic molecule existing as H2. I hope that this isn’t one of those “too good to be true” shams that seem to be popping up these days. (research money and all that).
    If this turns out to be a “real” technology it will certainly be a welcomed weapon in the arsenal that will ultimately defeat our unsustainable energy production paradigm. (Sorry for the military analogy but this issue is turning into a REAL fight and I woke up in a dour mood today) {I know, no one gives a hoot what my waking mood is, but if we fail in this fight everyone will find themselves caring about energy production} As most readers here know the problem isn’t a lack of energy, it’s not using the free non-polluting energy that is readily available (no mining or drilling) needing only to be utilized.


    • Anonymous

      Haha, thanks for the smiles 😀

      I am cautious too, but IF this is what they say, that’s pretty cool 😀

  • Anonymous

    The big question – where is the CO2 coming from?

    Very unlikely they are using atmospheric CO2. Concentrations are too low for industrial purposes.

    Very likely they are sucking CO2 from a fossil fuel smokestack.

    Getting double use of the carbon and thus leaving a bit of oil underground is a net gain. But the real goal is to leave all sequestered carbon underground.

    How about we just switch to renewable energy, EVs and biogas for the liquid fuel that is absolutely required?

    • Anonymous

      yeah, but you and i know that it will still be a long time before they stop burning coal. if these guys have found a way to cheaply use the CO2 created, that’s pretty sweet

      • Anonymous

        “But we can’t shut down the XYZ coal plant! That would put the unnatural gas plant out of business and we couldn’t grill our steaks!!!”

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think will drive us there. It won’t be long before it makes more sense, by everyone’s standard, to just go “pure renewables” — can i coin that term?

          • Anonymous

            Pure renewables. Actual renewables.


            Ersatz renewables.

          • Anonymous


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