By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
With the rise of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, especially in the last ten years, the race to find, produce and sustain cheap, clean energy is on. The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville have teamed up to face the challenge.
The collaboration between Kentucky’s two largest research universities has been made possible through the National Science Foundation’s Offce of Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program, from U.S. Department of Energy funding.
According to the National Science Foundation, the program is a partnership program intended help attain the NSF statutory function “to strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education.”
Graduate students and professors at UK and U of L are working on a project that investigates the utilization of sunlight to generate hydrogen from water.
“The research has the potential to have huge effects,” said Chandrashekhar Pendyala, a U of L graduate student who is working on the project. Pendyala said because pure hydrogen gas is not naturally abundant, it must be generated by releasing it from compounds, such as water.
“The goal of the project is to try to produce hydrogen from using water,” Pendyala said. “What we want is to try to find a way… where all you have to supply is sunlight.”
The eradication of carbon emissions is a main goal of the U of L and UK collaboration. Instead of capturing released carbon from combustion gases, the project allows carbon to never even enter the cycle.
“The problem with hydrogen now is getting rid of the carbon, and in this there is no carbon anywhere in the cycle, which has major implications,” Pendyala said.
Since this process is completed without the presence of carbon anywhere throughout the cycle, it seems to be a solution to the immense carbon emissions released in coal- red power. Carbon reduction goals have become a major issue in the world, national and state political systems.
According to Kentucky’s department of energy and environment, more than 90 percent of Kentucky’s energy is currently from coal- red power. Although coal power is Kentucky and the United States’ predominant source of energy, the carbon emission it produces poses a threat.
Because the research is so advanced and cutting edge, Pendyala said there have been benefits of working alongside UK.
“Having the collaboration allows us to make the materials and study the properties at the same time,” Pendyala said.