A discovery that some have suggested rivals the splitting of the atom, could augur a new green energy revolution. According to the research, graphene can be used to extract hydrogen fuel from the air and burn it as a carbon free source of energy in a fuel cell. This would enable the collection and generation of emissions free electricity and water from abundant hydrogen.
This capability hinges on the discovery that graphene, a form of carbon graphite, allows positively charged hydrogen atoms or protons to pass through it despite being completely impermeable to all other gases. The collected hydrogen could then be used to power fuel cells.
Graphene was first discovered in 2004 at the UK’s University of Manchester by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, a discovery which earned them the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.
“Essentially you pump your fuel from the atmosphere and get electricity out of this fuel, in principle. Before this paper, this wouldn’t even be speculation; it would be science fiction. At least our paper provides a guidance and proof that this kind of device is possible and doesn’t contradict to any known laws of nature,” Geim said.