Roof Top Hydrogen-Generating Solar Cells for Vehicles

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Students at the University of Leuven, the Netherlands, have won the first Energy Award, sponsored by Febeliec – the association of industrial energy consumers, a Belgian trade association. Their miniature solar panel produces hydrogen gas when exposed to sunlight, not unlike “artificial leaves” of other researchers.  The bioscience engineers crafted a small square panel that can be mounted to rooftops, including those of cars, to convert water vapor in the air to H2 that could feed fuel cells in the building or vehicle.  This could also reduce CO2 “on a large scale to convert it into useful substances,” according to the team of young scientists. Generating electricity and producing hydrogen at the same time is a neat trick, but the …

Direct Conversion of Sunlight to Hydrogen – Cheaply

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We’ve witnessed several attempts to produce an “artificial leaf,” a device emulating the photosynthesis of plants, but providing hydrogen and oxygen that could power fuel cells in electric vehicles instead of plant sugars to make trees and flowers grow.  One of the biggest problems so far has been the rare and costly materials necessary to generate hydrogen. Ècole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL) scientists have come up with a low-cost alternative, using abundant materials called perovskites and budget electrodes to produce hydrogen from water with a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency – a record for fairly common materials. Perovskites are a calcium titanium oxide mineral that come in a variety of colors and can be bog-common or extremely rare, approaching rare earth mineral …

Taking That Fork in the Solar Road

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Kyoung-Shin Choi, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and postdoctoral researcher Tae Woo Kim combined forces to come up with a two-pronged approach for producing stored energy from mere sunlight. Many researchers take the familiar path of using expensive materials to extract the greatest percentage of energy from solar cells, but others use low-cost, less efficient organic materials spread across a greater area to get the same results.  Choi and Kim, though, decided that selecting two different low-cost materials could give greater results – something a more single-path approach would miss. As their U of W report states, “Generating electricity is not the only way to turn sunlight into energy we can use on demand. The sun can also …

Solar Cells and Artificial Photosynthesis Make Hydrogen Directly

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Science 2.0.com reports on an exciting potential breakthrough in solar energy and its direct transformation into hydrogen fuel.  Usually, solar cells generate current from photons, making electricity which can run things or be stored in batteries. This new and different approach, using an innovative and inexpensive solar cell and a metal oxide photo anode, can store nearly five percent of solar energy chemically as hydrogen. The metal oxide bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) photo anode includes a small dose of tungsten atoms, was then sprayed onto conducting glass and “coated with an inexpensive cobalt phosphate catalyst,” which helped speed up oxygen formation during water splitting. Science 2.0 reports Professor Dr. Roel van de Krol’s remarks.  He’s head of the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin …

Salt Plus Titanium Dioxide Plus Light Equals Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Microorganisms found in salt flats could offer a new path to green hydrogen fuel, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Argonne researchers say that some desert salt flats shelter “a protein found in the membranes of ancient microorganisms,” and could hold promise for generating hydrogen fuel in an “environmentally friendly” way. Salts come in a variety of colors, and each edible variety can lend a unique taste to recipes, but the purple salt used in the Argonne experiments can help make hydrogen. Elena Rozhkova is a scientist at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials in the Nanoscience and Technology Division. She develops her own research programs and works with users in the Center for Nanoscale …

Fuel Cell Progress in Britain

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado released a document last year on the viability of fuel cells for various applications, including transportation.  The National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report, “analyzed data from more than 500,000 individual vehicle trips covering 3.6 million miles traveled and more than 152,000 [kilograms] hydrogen produced or dispensed.”  The agency tested 180 vehicles over a six-year period. With United States Department of Energy expectations that fuel cell powered vehicles could achieve: • 250-mile driving range • 2,000-hour fuel cell durability • $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) hydrogen production cost (based on volume production) At least two fuel cell manufacturers report results exceeding these numbers, so the major impediment to wide-spread implementation of …

Is This the Plop, Plop Fizz, Fizz of Energy?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Back in the early reaches of television advertising, one jingle was credited with nearly doubling sales of Alka-Seltzer, a popular over-the-counter remedy for acid indigestion.  “Plop, plop; fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” became a defacto instruction on how to use the pill, implying two were needed.  Alka-Seltzer’s users got the idea and sales went up appreciably, reinforced by new instructions on the packaging. The sparkly image of the “cure” brings to mind a current effort by State University of New York at Buffalo researchers to drop nano-sized particles of silicon in water, with resulting bubbles of hydrogen escaping in large enough quantities to power portable devices. They have, “Created spherical silicon particles about 10 nanometers in diameter. …