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Power Science

Possible Breakthrough In Hydrogen Energy 326

Posted by kdawson
from the doing-what-comes-naturally dept.
destinyland writes "MIT researchers have developed a method of splitting a water molecule by emulating the way blue-green algae separates oxygen from hydrogen. One chemistry professor called it 'an extremely clever piece of work' that addresses 'the nanoscale organization of the components.' Using sunlight rather than electricity to make hydrogen from water could greatly improve the efficiency of the process. The hydrogen can be stored for generating electricity or burned as fuel for cars. The project is being led by the winner of a 2004 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, who uses genetically engineered viruses as templates for nanoscale electronic components. 'Suddenly, I wondered, what if we could assemble materials like the abalone does — but not be limited to one element?'" Here is the press release from MIT; the research paper is available only to subscribers of Nature Nanotechnology (or those willing to part with $18).
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Possible Breakthrough In Hydrogen Energy

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  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @01:58AM (#32179386) Journal

    Using sunlight rather than electricity [...]

    What happens if I run out of hydrogen at night?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      If you want to store energy at night you'd probably be better off going with solar thermal + liquid salt thermal storage + water thermochemical cracking. Hydrogen is better used as a chemical fuel or used in synthesizing other chemicals. It's very good at reducing things or powering fuel cells but as a method of storing solar energy on a daily basis, not so much.

      • by masshuu (1260516)

        OR he could just buy another tank so he doesn't run out again.

        Yeah, wonder how safe that is. The neighborhood has a couple thousand tons of hydrogen in buried tanks.

    • You’ll kick yourself for not thinking ahead and building a plant that creates enough hydrogen in advance to get to even the worst night times 10? ;)

      Seriously. The granary is what... the second item of all you’ll ever build in a city in Civilization? Its advances should teach you something about buffering. ^^

    • by feepness (543479) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:44AM (#32179872) Homepage

      What happens if I run out of hydrogen at night?

      You have to make H while the sun shines.

  • which is better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:02AM (#32179400) Homepage

    Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

    Humans have shown over and over that in large groups we use all the resources available, don't slow or restrain ourselves in time to save ourselves, and unless there are consistent, strict rules and provisioning in place, we exhaust available resources.

    I think it would be better for the long term survival of the species if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources for several generations, and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth. If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

    • Re:which is better (Score:5, Insightful)

      by init100 (915886) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:10AM (#32179430)

      If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

      Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

      • Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

        The surface area of the Earth is finite. Our appetite for energy is not. The amount of surface available for energy production is much smaller when you subtract oceans and places to grow our food.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

        Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

        neither is hydrogen :)

      • Re:which is better (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Almost-Retired (637760) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @11:27AM (#32182842)

        In a way that relates to long term survival of mankind, I have to look at the consequences of this when it has replaced about 95% of the petro-crap we use now to run everything. That could happen as the petro becomes ever harder to extract in a safe mode, which as we are seeing, doesn't seem to be the case for deep sea drilling.

        Hydrogen, once split, is a very small molecule, and like helium, is hard to store in a pressure vessel because it will slowly walk right through the walls of the vessel, even Monel metal ones. Since the other side of the vessel wall is at local atmospheric pressure, and hydrogen, being even lighter than helium, will head skyward as fast as its weight difference can make it go in the presence of the viscosity of the air. And AFAIK, it never stops, escaping into space because we don't have gravity sufficient to retain it by a factor of 20+.

        Why is this important? Simple, really. Eventually we will run out of the raw material to make water, and since we are breaking it down to make this fuel, if this leakage is not being re-combusted, therefore giving the planet back its water, there will come a time when water will become scarce. Fresh water for human consumption already is a problem in some locales.

        Since hydrogen can be stored in a manner similar to the acetone soaked foam filling in a bottle of welding acetylene, at very low pressures compared to direct storage as a compressed gas, such storage should be mandated from the gitgo as it will reduce this loss by 95+%...

        I don't see us running out of water nearly as quickly as we have run out of petro stuffs, but in the Lazarus Long view, it may well happen. We will have made a replica of the planet Dune and I don't think that is what the folks promoting this envision. Too many will see this as a short term profit generator, and will not care what happens 100k years in the future, its not their watch. Those folks should not be trusted with your investment dollars.

        --
        Cheers, Gene
        "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
          soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
        -Ed Howdershelt (Author)

    • Re:which is better (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:14AM (#32179442) Homepage

      Considering that all life on this planet has a tendency to expand to consume all available resources, I wouldn't count on a cultural change to rectify the consumptionist problem.

      But don't cry a tear for poor H20. The water is not consumed when you create Hydrogen; when recombined with Oxygen it forms water again. You're not getting energy "out" of water. You're getting energy out of solar radiation. The water is merely a temporary medium to be broken apart to store energy, and re-combined to release it.

      • Hydrogen == Battery (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:20AM (#32179738)

        You're not getting energy "out" of water. You're getting energy out of solar radiation.

        Yup, hydrogen is just a battery: you charge it by removing the oxygen, then discharge it by burning it (which recombines the oxygen atoms and reforms water).

        (unless, of course, you're doing fusion, then hydrogen IS a power source)

    • Re:which is better (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:19AM (#32179468) Journal

      Clearly the solution is to both develop advanced cheap energy and work to "live within our means."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You start. Turn of your computer. We'll have another industrial revolution and you'll be left in the dust with that kind of attitude. Would you like to move to Africa or Cuba?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        Africa is his best bet. Life expectancies in the 40s. That should be suitable pre-industrial age nostalgia.

        • Yeah. Maybe we should start coming up with a way to send all these anti-tech people there? Should we pay for flights back?
          • by Rogerborg (306625)
            Flights? You technophile monster. Gaia demands that we make a raft by lashing them together with hemp, then throw them in the sea and give them a shove to get them started.
      • Re:which is better (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:20AM (#32179736)

        I'd take Cuba, at least they have universal healthcare.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ex-MislTech (557759)

          Sometimes what you are told is not actually what is going on.

          The healthcare in cuba has limitations.

          Some procedures that can be done in the US are not available in Cuba.

          I totally agree our healthcare system has turned into a profit chasing nightmare,
          but I think both sides are using disinfo to sell their agenda.

          Both sides are fundamentally corrupt and flawed.

          We need something like a co-op for health care, by the ppl for the ppl
          and run as a not for profit so it is not even taxed.

          This would drop the costs mass

      • by FreeUser (11483)

        You start. Turn of your computer. We'll have another industrial revolution and you'll be left in the dust with that kind of attitude. Would you like to move to Africa or Cuba?

        He'd fit right in in Northwestern Pakistan...9th century Taliban mentality, eschewing all modernity, and waxing self-righteous as they force themselves and others into deprevation. He'd even get to keep the hypocrasy of using modern technology (chemicals, bomb-making materials, land rovers) while depriving others. He might even make

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Cuba would be a lot better off if the fucking 800lb gorilla on its doorstep agreed to, you know, let it trade fairly.
        • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @06:39AM (#32180544) Homepage Journal
          I have no idea what your personal political views are, so this is not a commentary on them - just something your comment reminds me of. I have always found it incredibly amusing that hard-core socialists and communists have pointed to the US trade ban with Cuba - i.e., insufficiently free trade - as the source of so many of the island's ills..
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)

            Communism is not opposed to free trade.

            Why you even bother to put socialists in the same sentence does lend itself to the idea that you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fryjs (1456943)
      Yes, how horrible it would be to have another "industrial revolution" type of growth where the abundance of cheap energy allows another massive increase in standard of living. If you are actually concerned about the long term survival of the species, we need ever cheaper and easier sources of energy to expand into the galaxy, and the quicker the better (in terms of odds).
    • Exactly! We need to further our research instead on ultrasonic birth control. It's terrible that we didn't stop inventing new power sources before we came up with nuclear fission power back 80 years ago in the 30s. If we had just had the forsight to shutdown all these new power technologies before then we would be well on our way to keeping the human population within controllable limits.

    • A bacteria colony might do the same. It seems to be a side-effect of life and the alternatives are usually catastrophe, starvation, pestilence/disease or whatever thinning, decimating or simply eradicating the organism 'naturally'. Personally I like humanity warts and all, so I vote amazing ways to create energy from resources now please.

      As an added bonus if we prove to be clever enough as an organism our reach (and therefore our available resources) might extend far beyond this beautiful little rock we c
      • Actually, the fact that we think ahead and find new sources of energy, like this, indicates that we are above a bacteria colony. If we're a bacteria colony, we would just burn oil until we ran out. But, we would not have oil in the first place, because we would have died when we ran out of whale oil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      When we run out of cheap, easy energy sources, the "new culture " is going to be based on grabbing what's left, same as every "old culture" we've ever had.

      We can choose two futures: Star Trek, or Mad Max. The difference is availability of energy.

    • by Rob Kaper (5960)

      Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

      The two are not mutually exclusive, so why not live within our means and try to find sustainable solutions to expand those means?

    • by chrb (1083577)

      if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources

      It might happen sooner than you think [wikipedia.org].

      come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too

      When the sun dies, all life on Earth will end. The only hope of surviving such an event is to discover a non-Earth non-Sun based energy source and travel to the stars. However, there might not be such an energy source, in which case the human species will end - the only questions are how and when.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)

      Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

      Clearly the former. Because without attempting that sort of thing, you don't understand what "our means" are.

    • 'Suddenly, I wondered, what if we could assemble materials like the abalone does — but not be limited to one element?'

      My thinking when I make a sandwich.

    • Re:which is better (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bongo (13261) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @07:29AM (#32180712)

      Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

      Humans have shown over and over that in large groups we use all the resources available, don't slow or restrain ourselves in time to save ourselves, and unless there are consistent, strict rules and provisioning in place, we exhaust available resources.

      I think it would be better for the long term survival of the species if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources for several generations, and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth. If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

      I also think it would be better if children skipped ages 1 to 12 and started life as 13 year olds. No even better, as 21 years olds.

      Whilst it would be nice to imagine a new culture which transcends material growth, our development thus far has come along side material growth. The material side is related to the cultural side. It is no accident that the most underdeveloped cultures (female genital mutilation, widespread corruption as a daily fact of life, religious intolerance, deep racism and sexism) are all places that are materially poor. Like, green grass is a luxury. Clean water is a luxury.

      So when you champion "living within our means", you're talking about your current cushy oil based lifestyle. If you took that away, how do you know that the next generation won't develop a harder culture? In history, men and women segregated because life was dangerous and the men were sent to do the most dangerous jobs. In South Africa, Apartheid started because the white poor miners were on the verge of losing their jobs to even poorer native Africans. In Zambia, my own mum couldn't get a driving license because the "driving test" was dinner with the examiner. In Pakistan, life is still essentially feudal today, with forced arranged marriages and family members being disowned for not following the strict traditional rules. I mean, there's places where it is not so bad, and some are more progressive, but my point is, it is easy to forget how tenuous is our hold on rational liberal secular humanistic culture.

      it is not that those other cultures are "bad", they are just the best that ordinary humans can manage when the living conditions are harder.

      The way to sustainability is better technology that can do more. Anything else is stagnation and eventual devolution to death.

      If we fail to invent that new technology, we will fail to progress culturally beyond nation states and dogma.

      There is a line in Pygmalion where the well-to-do gentleman asks the thief, "have you no morals man??"

      And the thief replies, unashamed, "can't afford them."

  • efficiency (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:06AM (#32179406) Journal

    This is from what I've read on the subect, quite impressive in terms of how it works however, this isn't a technology that is very likely capable of exceeding the efficiency of a few other methods of producing Hydrogen. 10% solar => Hydrogen efficiency would be impressive for a biological system but well within reach of other technologies like solar thermal [wikipedia.org] + water thermochemical cracking [wikipedia.org] This technology might be of use if alternatives remain comparatively expensive.

    • Re:efficiency (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:37AM (#32179528)

      As someone who both worked on this biological route and saw this thesis defense (FYI, this is a dupe of an earlier story), and someone who is now working on the solar thermal route, I agree so heartily I was amazed to actually read this comment here. This is exactly the correct analysis -- extremely cool science, brilliant work, but no chance of being an actual engineering solution. As far as "comparitively expensive", the solar thermal routes we work on use metal oxides like FeO/Fe2O3 which is completely recovered while the biological route we use incorporates IrO2... and degenerates after 4-5 cycles. This seems like a no-brainer to me. However, the quantum efficiency trends due to cross coupling, the gel method of suspending wires, etc were all absolutely fascinating ideas.

      I should probably start logging in at some point so that people actually read my comments. A shame I can't be bothered to remember my password.

      • Re:efficiency (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:09AM (#32179682)

        I should probably start logging in at some point so that people actually read my comments. A shame I can't be bothered to remember my password.

        Yes you should. This is very very interesting that someone who works on thermochemical reads slashdot!!! Are you on the CR5 at Sandia? I'm a highschool student who spent a lot of spare time looking at various thermochemical schemes. Trying to understand the chemical engineering behind them. You can read my conclusions if you want. Please keep in mind that I have no real lab and haven't done any experiments.

        In the end, I came to the conclusion that I liked FeO/Fe2O3 the best. The problem I saw was passivation of the iron oxide. So I looked many ways to get rid of this problem. By either misting molten FeO, grinding FeO into smaller particles, reaction with acids, etc. But one I found that I think has not been considered is the disproportion of the FeO. FeO disproportionate at temps below about 500 C as 4FeO -> Fe + Fe3O4. I have no idea what the resulting mixture looks like mechanically when this happens, but according to stuff I read it does indeed happen. Thermodynamic calculations with NIST data show that the reaction is favorable. Metalic iron reacts much better with steam than FeO, AFAIK.

        The next cycle I liked was the ISPRA mark 2 sodium manganese cycle:

        1. Na2O.MnO2 + H2O -> 2NaOH(a) + MnO2 at 100 C
        2. 4MnO2(s) -> 2Mn2O3(s) + O2(g) at 487 C
        3. Mn2O3 + 4NaOH -> 2Na2O.MnO2 + H2(g) + H2O at 800 C
        This seemed quite good except for that high temperature NaOH.

        This weird cycle came up in one of Ken Schultz's papers and I found it quite interesting. It's all liquid, and it seems quite strange. Could it work? I have no idea. There could be corrosion problems, with the KOH.
        1. K2O2 + H2O -> 2KOH + O2 at 100 C
        2. 2KOH + 2K -> 2K2O + H2 at 725 C
        3. 2K2O -> 2K + K2O2 at 850 C

        Another idea I had was what I call the thermoelectrochemical engine. Here's how it works. You have two metals, A and B. A can be smelted from it's oxide by hydrogen or CO, and B can reduce water or CO2. There is a non-trivial potential difference between the two metals. For example, A = iron, and B = tin. I'm guessing you can see where this is going.
        1. 2Fe + SnO2 -> 2FeO + Sn + 0.5ish V in aqueous electrolyte
        2. Sn + 2H2O -> SnO2 + 2H2 at some slightly elevated temperature.
        3. 2FeO + 2H2 -> 2Fe + 2H2O at some elevated temperature
        There are probably better metals than iron and tin but I picked them because I'm pretty sure they'd work.

        Thanks for reading. I'm thinking that FeO is better than sulfur-iodine because there's no high temp separation, and no corrosives running around at high temperature.

      • by Malc (1751)

        What happens to the oxygen in this process? Could it be easily recombined with the hydrogen and thus another desalination method?

        • It would be far more efficient to use salt water as a coolant in conventional power stations using the waste heat from producing power to evaporate pure water from sea water. Using sea water in these thermochemical processes would be disasterous from a design standpoint due to side reactions and contamination of the reactor with salt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:16AM (#32179452)

    This could be a winner even if efficiency isn't great.

    Yes, there are nightmare problems handling hydrogen (invisible flame, leaks through many materials)

    BUT - provided it's durable and cheap you have Solar power that works 24 hours/day. Turn electricity to hydrogen by day, burn hydrogen or run a fuel cell by night.

     

    • Burn the Hydrogen down to Methane, then use the methane with existing technology and infrastructure. Crack atmospheric CO2 to provide the carbon for Methane so you have a closed cycle.

      Some buses run on methane right now.

      • Actually, you don't want to burn down to methane, and it's not really "burning" (maybe it is). It would be better to make gasoline, instead of methane (easier to transport, runs a normal car). The process is here [wikipedia.org]. Here's the chemistry:

        CO2 + H2 = CO + H2O
        xCO + (2x+1)H2 = CxH(2x+2) + xH2O
        Where x often equals 8.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jobst (955157)

      wonder how many current (global/giant/energy) firms will be trying (very VERY hard) to clobber this ... starting with large advertising campaigns aka "this will not work blah blah blah"! I have got solar power on my roof and I hear a lot of people saying "not efficient enough" ... well bugger them, at the current rate I will have paid this off in 5 years time and from then onwards ...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        Ahh, but how long until you have the unsubsidized price paid off?

        It might be good for *you* because other people are paying for it, but it's not as good for *everyone*.

  • by Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:35AM (#32179520)
    This story appears to be a dupe [slashdot.org].

    Iridium, a form of unobtainium, is used. This costs upwards of $13,000 per kg. About 3 tons are produced a year.
    • This story appears to be a dupe [slashdot.org].

      Iridium, a form of unobtainium, is used. This costs upwards of $13,000 per kg. About 3 tons are produced a year.

      We should hope for more cometary impacts then.

    • "Iridium oxide catalyst". It's unlikely to require much iridium. Catalytic converters in cars use platinum and still aren't horribly expensive.
    • In other news, Slashdot editor kdawson has engineered a method to take credit for stories fellow Slashdot editor Soulskill posted to the front page one month earlier. The hope is to eventually never worry about a slow news day, but there's still a lot of research and development to done before it scales to widespread production.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:37AM (#32179524)
    The algae have hired a lawyer and are suing the viruses, bacteria, and MIT for patent infringement.
  • Over-rated (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:41AM (#32179544)

    Some genuinely incredible work has come out of the labs at MIT; however, the work described in this article is pedestrian. Frankly, Prof. Belcher is a seriously over-rated, one-trick pony. Don't get me wrong, it's a hugely impressive trick - essentially directed evolution of viruses to get their capsid (i.e., proteinaceous component) to selectively bind to [whatever], but she applies it to whatever the current hot topic is, such as the photocatalytic splitting of water, and has absolutely done it to death. It's her hammer for the world of research nails.

    Some of you may recall one of her papers a few years ago on virus-based lithium ion batteries. That work was also Belcher's brainchild, used the exact same techniques as are found in this Nature Nanotech paper, and was also ridiculously over-rated.

    The problem with MIT is shameless self-promotion - and it's self-perpetuating because people (even the MIT professors spouting their own greatness) believe it. Another example is Robert Langer, whose work is fine but unremarkable. However, because he's so well known and great at self-promotion, he gets papers in Science/Nature/etc. As a result, his fame continues and the accolades continue to pour in.

    It's frustrating to watch, knowing that fame and accolades are often undeserved when brilliant work from lesser known researchers goes unnoticed, but there's really no solution other than to point out when particular academics get more recognition than they deserve and hope that others reading agree and spread the word.

    • by rubies (962985) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:05AM (#32179672)

      Thanks Sheldon, say hi to Penny for me.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Frankly, Prof. Belcher is a seriously over-rated, one-trick pony

      Great name, though.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Some genuinely incredible work has come out of the labs at MIT; however, the work described in this article is pedestrian. Frankly, Prof. Belcher is a seriously over-rated, one-trick pony. Don't get me wrong, it's a hugely impressive trick - essentially directed evolution of viruses to get their capsid (i.e., proteinaceous component) to selectively bind to [whatever], but she applies it to whatever the current hot topic is, such as the photocatalytic splitting of water, and has absolutely done it to death. It's her hammer for the world of research nails

      Creativity is not the only measure. The question then boils down to "How good is the hammer?" As I see it, if this can be developed into a powerful tool with a lot of competitive applications, then it's not pedestrian and is work worthy of a scientist at MIT.

  • All the buzzword (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @02:45AM (#32179574)

    MIT, hydrogen, green, McArthur grant winner, genetic engineering, nano something or other, all these buzz bullshit in the short summary paragraph.

    Stinks of bullshit to the high heaven.

  • ...uses genetically engineered viruses as templates for nanoscale electronic components...

    What could possibly go wrong?!

  • Last I heard, hydrogen generation by electrolysis was well over 50% efficient.

    The problem with hydrogen isn't making it. That's easy. The problem is storing it, which involved dealing with energy losses through compression and diffusion. Or with getting a carbon source and attaching the hydrogen to carbon, which leads to a convenient storage form.

    Wake me again when they can efficienty make, say, methane from electrolytically generated hydrogen and CO2 extracted from the air. Then we're talking.

    • by Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:34AM (#32179812)
      Yes, electrolysis is 70%+ efficient. But, it first must go through that pesky and pricey 20% efficient solar panel, so you get %14 solar to hydrogen. Wouldn't it be great if we could skip that solar panel and all the associated pricing, and go right to hydrogen? That's what this is about.

      Also, you don't want methane. You want gasoline. By the time you end up with methane, you have gasoline. Baking soda is a carbon dioxide capture system. We pretty much already have the technology, and I wish someone with a real lab (not me) would do a tech demo.
      • by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @03:58AM (#32179930)
        Yes, electrolysis is 70%+ efficient. But, it first must go through that pesky and pricey 20% efficient solar panel,

        True. But there are other renewable source with intermittent output that can be used for electrolysis, like wind power. And where I live, the potential power from wind is about five times that of solar.

        Also, you don't want methane. You want gasoline. By the time you end up with methane, you have gasoline.

        Yeah, yeah, I know. I'd be happy with methane first, since it's already much easier to handle than plain hydrogen. Synthesizing longer chain hydrocarbons might make the fuel more convenient, but also requires more effort.

        Baking soda is a carbon dioxide capture system.

        The problem with CO2 is that you'll need _lots_ for the industrial process, and there's only very little of it air (300-something ppm). Extracting that is a major pain in the rear (i.e. requires lots of energy).

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @05:25AM (#32180332)

    Damn, I thought i had the perfect way of breaking water molecules up: lending them to teenagers while saying 'be careful with these molecules' . Sadly, when it came to harvesting the hydrogen atoms, they had become lost or 'there was no atoms in the molecules' or 'what water molecules?'.

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