M3 Features

Bengali scientist discovers new source of energy

January 27, 2014

Not just solar energy or biogas, even hydrogen could be a source for non-conventional energy – energy which is renewable, unlike fossil fuels, and therefore environment-friendly. And research has proven that water can be a cheap source of hydrogen. However, the issue has been finding a viable method of splitting up the water molecules, which are made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, to take out the hydrogen from them.

Now a Kolkata-based scientist has created ripples by finding a suitable catalyst to do exactly this. Abhishek Dey has been researching on catalysts for the last two-and-a-half years at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS). His hard work has borne fruit at last. And with an international award to boot. He has been selected for the prestigious Young Investigator Award, a biyearly award given by the International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines (ICPP).

We all know that human blood is red in colour. The red colour is due to a pigment called haem (or heme, in American English), which is an example of porphyrin. Porphyrins are a group of chemicals that help form many important substances in the body, including hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the blood. It is this haem which has been discovered to act as a catalyst to break down water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen quickly, and thus enable the rapid production of large amounts hydrogen which is a environment-friendly fuel. And artificial haem can easily be produced in the lab. 

Abhishek Dey

The award would be handed over at the forthcoming summit of ICPP in Istanbul, Turkey. Another young researcher, Taku Hasobe from Japan, is the co-winner of the 2014 award. Dey's findings, which include a technique testing efficacy of Alzheimer's drugs, have been consistently published in several international journals.

ICPP is a society formed in 2000 to highlight studies on the pigment groups, porphyrins and phthalocyanines.

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