Using energy from the sun, researchers converted seawater into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) — a fuel that can be used in fuel cells, instead of elemental hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a great medium for storing energy. It can be used as an alternative to batteries to store the excess energy from renewable energy systems like solar panels or wind turbines, and can be released from a tank to power a vehicle equipped with fuel cells. More than a decade ago, these prospects hyped the so called “hydrogen economy”. Governments and funding agencies drew up ambitious plans to develop cheaper fuel cells and to enable cars to store practicable quantities of hydrogen. In 2003, President George Bush committed $720 million to the research effort. But eventually… it all turned out to be a pipeline dream mostly because of two shortcomings: hydrogen is very expensive to store and make; from renewable sources at least.
A rather surprising study found that graphene’s imperfections can actually be used to improve fuel cell efficiency. Researchers from Northwestern University worked together with scientists of five other institutes to show that defective graphene actually works as the world’s thinnest proton channel—only one atom thick.
A team at Caltech has devised a new film coating that facilitates catalysis and electron transfer in a solar powered system that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be used as fuels. Such a system is also called an artificial leaf or solar-fuel generator because in many ways it mimics the process which plants use to convert sunlight and CO2 into oxygen and fuel (sugars, carbohydrates). The researchers make note, however, that they’re still a long way from making it commercial viable, but these sort of updates are inspiring.
A team of UK researchers led by none other but Nobel Laureate Andre Geim – one of persons involved in graphene‘s discovery in 2004 – has shown that the wondrous two dimensional material graphene can used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells. The find took everybody by surprise since no one expected graphene could allow protons to pass through
Researchers at University of Utah have demonstrated for the first time a working biological fuel cell that uses enzymes to convert jet fuel into electricity; all at room temperature. Fuel cells are much cleaner and efficient at producing energy than internal combustion engines – theoretically, fuel cells can be up to four times more efficient since the energy conversion is electrochemical
Renewable energy is clean, getting cheaper by the day and in many respects becoming more efficient thanks to rapid advancements coming from the world’s top-notch labs. It has one major drawback – storage. Before people can find a clever and cost-effective way to store all of that excess energy from wind and solar farms, chances have it that very few
In the future, your saliva might power key microelectronics. Researchers at Penn State have devised a micro-sized microbial fuel cells that is power by the organic materials and bacteria present in saliva. The power generated by the tiny fuel cell is very small, though, so don’t expect charging your phone by spitting in it any time soon. It is enough,
One of the biggest arguments against renewable energy deployment on the truly massive scale is their unreliability. Justly so, wind doesn’t always blow at desired velocities and the sun fluctuates in sunshine throughout the day. With this in mind, if you don’t have a back-up storage medium, intermittent renewables will always be an alternative – second place to fossil power
Fuel cells are absolute wonders of technology – electrochemical systems that directly convert the chemical energy of a fuel (hydrogen and oxygen) into electricity and heat. There’s no combustion, and consequently fuel cells aren’t limited by the same thermodynamic cycles as a typical heat engine. A theoretical efficiency of 70% is thus reached – which is staggering compared to burning
There’s been a lot of praise and finger pointing alike around the hydrogen economy, and whether or not fuel cells can be scaled to reasonable levels i.e. becoming actually useful. There are a lot of problems with fuel cells in terms of their economy. Fuel cells are some of the most efficient energy converters current technology has fostered so far,