Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide, scientists in Europe have successfully stored nearly 5% of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. The significance of the advance is based on the design of the solar cell, which is much simpler than that of the high-efficiency triple-junction cells based on amorphous silicon or class III-V semiconductors.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks, among other applications. Now, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have found that hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for ships at berth, replacing on-board diesel generators.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to Penn State Univ. researchers. The U.S. Dept. of Energy recently examined the feasibility of producing 20% of U.S. electricity from wind by 2030.
Electrolysis is often used to produce hydrogen that can be used for a storable fuel. Modified solar cells with highly efficient architecture can use this method to obtain hydrogen from water with the help of catalysts. But these solar cells rapidly corrode in aqueous electrolytes. By embedding the catalysts in an electrically conducting polymer, researchers have prevented this corrosion while maintaining competitive efficiency.
The element hydrogen offers hope and headaches in equal measure. The most abundant element on the planet is also one of the most attractive for use as fuel. But because it is also the lightest element, it does not naturally occur in pure form. Hydrogen is so crucial in manufacturing, energy supply, and scientific research that new methods to improve production are being eagerly sought.
Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International will join forces to explore, test and evaluate a broad range of hydrogen and natural gas fuel systems and components for transportation applications under a new agreement. The five-year memorandum of understanding is the first agreement in Sandia’s new Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation, an alternative fuel research and innovation facility.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.
Duke University engineers have developed a novel method for producing clean hydrogen, which could prove essential to weaning society off of fossil fuels and their environmental implications. The Duke engineers, using a new catalytic approach, have shown in the laboratory that they can reduce carbon monoxide levels to nearly zero in the presence of hydrogen and the harmless byproducts of carbon dioxide and water.
Using a powerful combination of microanalytic techniques that simultaneously image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers at NIST have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight.
Technology created an energy revolution over the past decade—just not the one we expected. By now, cars were supposed to be running on fuel made from plant waste or algae—or powered by hydrogen. Electricity would be generated with solar panels and wind turbines. Fossil fuels? They were going to be expensive and scarce. But in the race to conquer energy technology, Old Energy is winning.
In recently published online paper, researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory describe details of a low-cost, stable, effective catalyst that could replace costly platinum in the production of hydrogen. The catalyst, made from renewable soybeans and abundant molybdenum metal, produces hydrogen in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective manner, potentially increasing the use of this clean energy source.
A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.
Every year, millions of tons of environmentally harmful ash is produced worldwide, and is mostly dumped in landfill sites or, in some countries, used as construction material. The ash is what is left when rubbish has been burnt in thermal power stations. A researcher from Lund University in Sweden has now developed a technique to use the ash to produce useful hydrogen gas.
To make fuel cells more economical, engineers want a fast and efficient iron-based molecule that splits hydrogen gas to make electricity. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have recently reported the development of such a catalyst. Made from a synthetic molecule, it is the first iron-based catalyst that converts hydrogen directly to electricity, and it might help make those fuel cells less expensive.
Super-small particles of silicon react with water to produce hydrogen almost instantaneously, according to University at Buffalo researchers. In a series of experiments, the scientists created spherical silicon particles about 10 nm in diameter. When combined with water, these particles reacted to form silicic acid and hydrogen—a potential source of energy for fuel cells.
In the first-ever experiment of its kind, researchers have demonstrated that clean energy hydrogen can be produced from water splitting by using very small metal particles that are exposed to sunlight. Researchers from Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory found that the use of gold particles smaller than 1 nm resulted in greater hydrogen production than other co-catalysts tested.
Since the phenomenon was discovered in 1875, hydrogen embrittlement has been a persistent problem for the design of structural materials. Despite decades of research, experts have yet to fully understand the physics underlying the problem and must still resort to a trial-and-error approach. Now, a team of researchers have shown that the answer may be rooted in how hydrogen modifies material behaviors at the nanoscale.
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) tandem solar cells offer a way to produce hydrogen directly from water. But efforts to produce an efficient cell have only resulted in extremely expensive prototypes. Researchers in Switzerland have recently developed a PEC, however, that is made from inexpensive materials and achieves up to 16% efficiency.
Hydrogen is an attractive fuel source because it can easily be converted into electric energy and gives off no greenhouse emissions. A group of chemists at the University of Rochester is adding to its appeal by increasing the output and lowering the cost of current light-driven hydrogen-production systems.
Hydrogen production by solar water splitting in photoelectrochemical cells (PEC) has long been considered the holy grail of sustainable energy research. Iron oxide is a promising electrode material, and now an international team of researchers gained in-depth insights into the electronic structure of an iron oxide electrode, while it was in operation. This opens up new possibilities for an affordable hydrogen production from solar energy.
Though not often considered beyond the plasma television, developers have begun to capitalize on how these small-scale microplasmas interact with liquids to kill bacteria or synthesize nanoparticles. An interdisciplinary collaboration has revealed a critical interaction that is occurring at this plasma-liquid interface in that the electrons in plasma actually serve to separate water, producing hydrogen gas.
For the first time, engineers at the University of New South Wales have demonstrated that hydrogen can be released and reabsorbed from a promising storage material, overcoming a major hurdle to its use as an alternative fuel source. The researchers have synthesized nanoparticles of a commonly overlooked chemical compound called sodium borohydride and encased these inside nickel shells.
Hydrogen is a clean fuel, producing only water vapor when it burns. But generating hydrogen in large quantities and in a "green" fashion is not straightforward. Biological photosynthesis includes an efficient reaction step that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen with the help of catalysts that have been used as models for synthetic catalysts. Working at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, a team of scientists has determined the structure of one such catalyst, a complex cobalt oxide.
Scientists who have recently calculated microscopic reaction mechanisms in the promising energy storage material aluminum hydride are challenging outdated reaction curve interpretations. Their findings show how the creation of vacancies in hydrogen enables the release rate of the gas to be fast, but not too fast.
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has announced a new partnership with Cella Energy Inc. that could result in vehicles being powered by hydrogen. The company has formulated a way to store hydrogen safely in tiny pellets that still allow the fuel to be burned in an engine. Because of its rocket work, Kennedy has the infrastructure and experience necessary to handle hydrogen safely.