The idea is to simulate the photosynthesis process carried out by plants to separate water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter of which is used in several fields related to energy.
Dr. Mustafa Afifi Hassan, 36, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Science, New Valley University, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, is participating in the experiments.
Afifi confirmed to Sky News Arabia that the idea was adopted by Gwangju University, and then financially supported by the Korean government after a request submitted by the supervisor of the research group for this purpose.
Afifi explained that the mechanism of action to produce hydrogen lies in the following:
- Using a semiconductor material as an electrode in a photovoltaic cell with the aim of separating water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.
- When hydrogen is produced and electricity is generated, it is stored, and then used as fuel instead of coal or gasoline in factory power, as fuel for cars, home heating and other areas.
- Biofuels from hydrogen will be better for the environment than fossil fuels, as they produce no carbon dioxide emissions, while gasoline affects the environment and climate due to carbon dioxide emissions from burning it.
- We need a stable material that is sustainable and is longer in the process of separating water molecules, and less likely to peel or rust over time, and current experiments use nanocomposites of zinc oxide and gallium nitride, and the more the material is stable during the chemical reaction, the efficiency of hydrogen and electricity produced is much higher.
- After reaching the required material and reaching results that companies can adopt, and expand the generation of hydrogen and electricity to suit the market, and we hope to implement the idea in the market within ten years or less.
- At the moment the cost of producing hydrogen is higher than gasoline, but I expect the cost of producing hydrogen compared to fossil fuels to be equal in the coming years.
- Hydrogen also contains three times the energy generated by fossil fuels making it more efficient.
- Other than producing hydrogen from the separation of water molecules, we can also generate electricity on a large scale.
Mustafa explains how he was able to break down barriers to work on this project in South Korea:
- I graduated from the Faculty of Science, Beni Suef University in Egypt, and then was appointed as an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Science, New Valley University.
- In 2015, I contacted a professor at Cheonam National University in South Korea and he confirmed my acceptance as a doctoral student after I obtained my master's degree from the Faculty of Science, Cairo University.
- She received a scholarship in 2016 in South Korea and then received her PhD in February 2020.
- I returned to Egypt to equalize my PhD from the Supreme Council of Universities, and I was already appointed as a teacher at the Faculty of Science, New Valley University, before applying to complete my doctoral research based on the use of hydrogen as fuel.