Dan Nocera

I watched his talk years ago. I was so impressed by the elegance of his team’s solution to sustainable energy. He’s also hilarious.

Then he disappeared. Or I couldn’t remember his name and look at what he was doing. EITHER WAY.

I found his ass again. His motto, basically:

Solar energy has the potential to scale up to meet long-term energy demands. He emphasizes that scientists must consider the economics of the materials they propose to use for energy sources and for storage technologies, if they are to develop viable energy alternatives.

So I was thinking, “Dan’s got it. We will reach complete sustainable energy autonomy at some point!!”

And then, he showed up with something amazing, the Artificial Leaf:

Like conventional photovoltaics, the artificial leaf used common semiconducting materials (in this case, amorphous silicon) to absorb sunlight and emit electrons. But then it went one step further. When dipped into a beaker of water, instead of producing electricity, the leaf harnessed the electrons to break the chemical bonds of water and release hydrogen gas — a fuel that can store energy at a significantly higher density and lower cost than electricity.

In 2009, Nocera formed Sun Catalytix, a startup to develop a prototype design for a system to convert sunlight into storable hydrogen which could be used to produce electricity.

And I’m like “fuck yeah it’s on!” But then it is not on:

However, in May 2012, Sun Catalytix stated that it would not be scaling up the prototype.

Fffffffuuuuuuu but then:

In hopes of developing a product that could be more rapidly brought to market, Sun Catalytix refocused its business model on developing a low-cost rechargeable flow battery for use in grid-scale and commercial-scale storage.

Me: this is it! It’s happening! Nocera’s company:

In 2014, Sun Catalytix was acquired by Lockheed Martin, because it was interested in using the flow battery.

Daaaaaamn Dan, can we, citizen peasants have access to tech that changes the world? Not emojis or photo filters, actual, real shit that saves the earth and us with it? Lockheed Martin is 30mn away in Burbank, Imma go knock at the door. “hi, I’m here for the batteries and fuel cells?”

Jokes aside, this technology is one of the holy grail of a sustainable future and it just got bought by a private, defense-focused company… Mr. Nocera, I really hope you bring this to production and to the world. We need your stuff.

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