One day soon the paint on your house could do more than add curb appeal. It could produce hydrogen from water vapor for use in fuel cells and other combustion systems.

Researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Melbourne, VIC, Australia) formulated a solar paint (Source: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)(Source: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)that absorbs water vapor from air by inclusion of synthetic molybdenum sulfide. The compound functions like the silica gel packets used to absorb moisture and keep food, medicines, and electronics dry. More importantly, it also serves as a semi-conductor and catalyzes the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen.

Mixing molybdenum sulfide with titanium oxide particles yields a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air.

“Titanium oxide is the white pigment that is already commonly used in wall paint, meaning that the simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate. Our new development has a big range of advantages,” said RMIT lead researcher Dr. Torben Daeneke. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.”