Hill’s reaction – an alternative to the nuclear energetics

Jerzy Buchowicz


In 1937, Robert Hill (Cambridge, UK) discovered photolysis of water. The reaction resulted in the production of hydrogen and oxygen, and was catalysed by chloroplasts on sunlight. The practical significance of this discovery was, unfortunately, overlooked. Only now, after the disaster in Fukushima, and the decision of German government (May, 2011) to close its atomic power stations, interest in alternative energy sources increases rapidly. In particular, special attention is given to transgenic plants with latent cellulolytic enzymes that are activated after the crop is harvested, giving a cheap substrate for the production of ethanol. More promising is, however, a possibility of sun-driven production of hydrogen from water. Although no example of such a hydrogen production can be given at present, the concept of the “fuel from the sun” becomes quite attractive. Attention should be given to the further development.


photolysis of water; hydrogen as a fuel; GMO; cellulosic ethanol

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