Raisins dipped in pudding. That’s what the creator of this image, Dr. Sreeprasanth Pulinthanathu Sree, sees when he looks at it. What we’re actually looking at is the outermost layer – the skin – of a device meant to harvest water from the air.
‘This is an artificial pore in that skin,’ says researcher Jan Rongé of the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis. ‘But a pore that works in reverse: it sweats inward.’ The spheres in the pudding are crystals of zeolite. This is a porous material that absorbs water vapour from the air, much like the bags of silica gel you find in shoe boxes. That water then disappears behind the ‘pudding skin’, a plastic-like membrane surrounding the device, and is finally broken down into hydrogen and oxygen.
This device was the first step in creating the hydrogen panel that was developed by Professor Johan Martens' team. It produces hydrogen from air and sunlight entirely on its own. A prime example of green energy.