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Solar Chemical

Plants carry out solar chemical reactions every day in the process of photosynthesis. The use of solar energy to rearrange the bonds among atoms is something that humans too can harness. When humans use solar energy in this manner, it is occasionally called artificial photosynthesis.

Hydrolysis

Hydrolysis is the splitting of water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Hydrolysis is the only process by which large enough amounts of hydrogen, which is scarce in its molecular form, could be derived to make a hydrogen economy viable.  At current, the only way to efficiently produce large quantities of molecular hydrogen is through the application of large quantities of electricity, which is expensive and requires vast amounts of energy.

This process can be enhanced and made economical through the application of concentrated solar energy in the presence of metal catalysts like zinc. Splitting water this way may enable a solar energy to be stored in the form of molecular hydrogen, which could then be exploited for transportation and other energy needs.

Other Solar Chemical Applications

The use of solar energy for driving chemical reactions has become popular for its ability to greatly reduce the cost of producing certain products. A number of solar chemical applications exist and are too numerous to list.

Photodimerization is the process of forming a single molecular unit from two separate molecules. It is the first step in the production of a number of useful compounds and was implemented as early as 1909. Dimerization is the first step in the synthesis of much larger molecules, particularly polymers that are found in synthetic fabrics, plastics, and carbon polymers. Solar energy could make the production of a number of chemicals far more economically and environmentally friendly than current methods.

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