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Nanotechnology simplifies hydrogen production for clean energy

November 27, 2012 8:34 am | News | Comments

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.

Study reveals clues to cause of hydrogen embrittlement

November 19, 2012 1:39 pm | News | Comments

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.

Rust and water are used to store solar energy as hydrogen

November 13, 2012 9:44 am | News | Comments

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.

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Nanocrystals, nickel catalyst improve light-based hydrogen production

November 8, 2012 3:33 pm | News | Comments

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.

The hunt for electron holes: A molecular glance on solar water splitting

October 30, 2012 1:18 pm | News | Comments

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.

New paper reveals fundamental chemistry of plasma-liquid interactions

October 17, 2012 11:56 am | News | Comments

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.

Two-faced materials boost hydrogen production

September 12, 2012 9:48 am | News | Comments

Though costly to produce, hydrogen is crucial for the oil-refining industry and the production of essential chemicals such as the ammonia used in fertilizers. The recent invention of a new photocatalyst may help the efficiency of this process. Nanometer-scale “Janus” structures consisting of cheap metal and oxide spheres were recently demonstrated as an excellent catalyst for a hydrogen-production reaction powered only by sunlight.

Scientists produce hydrogen for fuel cells using inexpensive catalyst

August 23, 2012 7:01 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have produced hydrogen, a renewable energy source, from water using an inexpensive catalyst under industrially relevant conditions—using pH neutral water, surrounded by atmospheric oxygen, and at room temperature.

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Engineering students build U.K.'s first hydrogen-powered locomotive

August 22, 2012 5:06 am | News | Comments

Engineering students and staff at the University of Birmingham have designed and built a prototype hydrogen-powered locomotive, the first of its kind to operate in the U.K. The narrow gauge locomotive is a hybrid design, combining a hydrogen fuel cell and lead acid batteries similar to the ones used in cars.

Nanostructures to realize hydrogen's energy potential

August 15, 2012 6:40 am | News | Comments

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.

An intriguing twist in the structure of a cobalt oxide catalyst

August 15, 2012 5:41 am | by David Lindley | News | Comments

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.

Calculations reveal fine line for hydrogen release from storage materials

July 17, 2012 7:08 am | News | Comments

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 partners with Cella Energy on hydrogen technology

July 10, 2012 1:45 pm | News | Comments

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.

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Ionic liquid improves speed, efficiency of hydrogen-producing catalyst

June 18, 2012 3:49 am | News | Comments

The design of a nature-inspired material that can make energy-storing hydrogen gas has gone holistic. Usually, tweaking the design of this particular catalyst—a work in progress for cheaper, better fuel cells—results in either faster or more energy-efficient production but not both. Now, researchers have found a condition that creates hydrogen faster without a loss in efficiency.

Potential carbon capture role for new carbon dioxide-absorbing material

June 12, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

A novel porous material that has unique carbon dioxide retention properties has been developed through research led by The University of Nottingham. The findings form part of ongoing efforts to develop new materials for gas storage applications could have an impact in the advancement of new carbon capture products for reducing emissions from fossil fuel processes.

NIST hydrogen test facility starts delivering data

May 16, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have published their first archival paper based on data from the institute's new hydrogen test facility. The paper examines the embrittling effect of pressurized hydrogen gas on three different types of pipeline steel, an important factor for the design of future hydrogen transportation and delivery systems.

Nanosheet catalyst discovered to sustainably split hydrogen from water

May 9, 2012 6:49 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential. Now, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials.

Novel solar reactor may enable clean fuel derived from sunlight

April 4, 2012 10:05 am | by Karen B. Roberts, University of Delaware | News | Comments

Producing hydrogen from non-fossil fuel sources is a problem that continues to elude many scientists, but University of Delaware's Erik Koepf thinks he may have discovered a solution. He has designed a novel reactor that employs highly concentrated sunlight and zinc oxide powder to produce solar hydrogen, a truly clean, sustainable fuel with zero emissions.

Researchers use electricity to generate alternative fuel

March 30, 2012 4:21 am | by Wileen Wong Kromhout, University of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Imagine being able to use electricity to power your car—even if it's not an electric vehicle. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have for the first time demonstrated a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity.

Fuel cell breaks 40,000-hour mark

March 29, 2012 2:01 pm | News | Comments

In a new world record for stationary applications, a planar solid oxide fuel cell built at Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research in Germany has exceeded an operating lifetime of 40,000 hours. Powered by hydrogen, the cell functioned for the equivalent of five years at 64% electricity conversion efficiency.

New catalyst for safe, reversible hydrogen storage

March 19, 2012 5:21 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators have developed a new catalyst that reversibly converts hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide to a liquid under very mild conditions. The work could lead to efficient ways to safely store and transport hydrogen for use as an alternative fuel.

A surprising new kind of proton transfer

March 19, 2012 5:04 am | News | Comments

Biologists have longed believed that protons, the bare nuclei of hydrogen atoms, only travel between molecules via hydrogen bonds: No hydrogen bonds, no proton transfer. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists at the Advanced Light Source and their colleagues investigating molecular components of RNA were surprised to find that protons can find ways to transfer even when hydrogen bonds are blocked.

Researchers create more efficient hydrogen fuel cells

March 15, 2012 6:33 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel cells, like those found in some "green" vehicles, have a lot of promise as an alternative fuel source, but making them practical on a large scale requires them to be more efficient and cost effective. A research team from the University of Central Florida may have found a way around both hurdles.

Novel energy-harvesting device gets green light

March 15, 2012 5:33 am | News | Comments

A project from a team of researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Manchester, and Durham University beat more than 2,000 other proposals to receive funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a prototype system for recovering drinkable water and harvesting hydrogen energy from human faecal waste.

Nanotrees harvest the sun's energy to turn water into hydrogen fuel

March 8, 2012 3:05 am | News | Comments

University of California, San Diego electrical engineers are building a forest of tiny nanowire trees in order to cleanly capture solar energy without using fossil fuels and harvest it for hydrogen fuel generation. The team says nanowires also offer a cheap way to deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.

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