HyperSolar uses power of sun to 'manufacture' natural gas

Technology seeks to leverage existing systems and infrastructure to provide a carbon-neutral energy alternative to coal.

Developer HyperSolar has filed a patent application for green technology that uses solar power to create renewable natural gas.

The technology, which is still in the development phase, uses nanoparticles to separate hydrogen from water, ala the photosynthesis process. The resulting hydrogen is then reacted with carbon dioxide to produce methane.

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company said that the resulting methane gas can be used as a direct replacement within existing systems that use natural gas. Notes Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar:

"With hundreds of billions of dollars already invested in natural gas infrastructure and trillions more dollars on the way, we believe natural gas as a primary fuel is a reality. However, the environmental risks associated with the extraction and usage of conventional natural gas is also a reality."

The HyperSolar technology would create natural gas above ground, without drilling or fracking (the process of extracting natural gas by fracturing shale).