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Piezo Crystals Harness Sound To Generate Hydrogen

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the what's-shakin'? dept.

Earth 187

MikeChino writes "Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that a mix of zinc oxide crystals, water, and noise pollution can efficiently produce hydrogen without the need for a dirty catalyst like oil. To generate the clean hydrogen, researchers produced a new type of zinc oxide crystals that absorb vibrations when placed in water. The vibrations cause the crystals to develop areas with strong positive and negative charges — a reaction that rips the surrounding water molecules and releases hydrogen and oxygen. The mechanism, dubbed the piezoelectrochemical effect, converts 18% of energy from vibrations into hydrogen gas (compared to 10% from conventional piezoelectric materials), and since any vibration can produce the effect, the system could one day be used to generate power from anything that produces noise — cars whizzing by on the highway, crashing waves in the ocean, or planes landing at an airport."

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187 comments

This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531620)

But can it produce enough electricity to power a small radio that plays the music used to create the vibrations necessary to produce the electricity?

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (5, Informative)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531670)

But can it produce enough electricity to power a small radio that plays the music used to create the vibrations necessary to produce the electricity?

No.

Sincerely yours,

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

whoosh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531710)

nuff said

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (1)

RabidRabb1t (1668946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531846)

Actually, I believe you meant the First Law of Thermodynamics -- conservation of energy is violated.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531852)

No.

Sincerely yours,

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

But isn't the First Law of Thermodynamics to never talk about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (1)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532276)

That only counts on a raed.

Pools closed.

etc.

etc.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (2, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531920)

Actually, that depends on what you do with the hydrogen. If you re-oxidize it by combustion, obviously no energy will come out.

If you fuse it into Helium, you've got free energy until you run out of water.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532196)

It's not free if you're spending water, therefore first law is not violated

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532168)

What part of 18% did you not understand? :P

And is it really 18% or 0.18% (2, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533196)

The air to water transition is a huge impedance change. so most sound will be reflected not transmitted into the water. Second Since they are talking about 18% of the absorbed energy being converted and not 18% of the incident energy, even once it gets into the water most of the incident energy is probably reflected or absorbed in the water itself.

Unless they have already taken these into account it seems like the conversion rate of air acoustic energy to hydrogen energy must be in the fraction of a percent. Even so free is free, and some forms of vibration like car vibrations might be coupled in without going through the air.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (0, Flamebait)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532380)

"No.

Sincerely yours,

The Second Law of Thermodynamics "

WRONG! 18% pretty much specifically implies there is nothing CLOSE to violating ANY of the laws. The answer is YES. From the starting current from the battery, the radio will produce noise, which will begin the hydrogen-separation process. This hydrogen is converted into energy by being directly injected into the fuel injector and mixed with the atomized fuel. It will produce power.

Sounds like you can't follow the basic route of energy.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532556)

Sounds like you can't follow basic reading comprehension...

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (0, Flamebait)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532898)

Sounds like you don't have a clue what you're talking about - I've been playing with water engines for years. Give me a gallon of gasoline and ten gallons of water and I can drive from California to Texas before needing a refuel.

I love how you remain ignorant of technology that has been around for nearly a century.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533324)

tell you what, drive out here with your contraption and I'll pay for the gas/water. I will then proceed to take the device in question and sell it to Exxon Mobil for no less than one billion dollars.

Seriously though, do you honestly expect somebody to believe what you just said there? If such a thing were possible, don't you think it would be popular by now? I know there's a conspiracy theory surrounding the concept you mention, but if you have a working prototype, WHY THE F AREN'T YOU SELLING IT?!?

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532700)

But can it produce enough electricity to power a small radio that plays the music used to create the vibrations necessary to produce the electricity?

No.

Sincerely yours,

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Not if you take into to count the power of Dance!

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (2, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532304)

But can it produce enough electricity to power a small radio that plays the music used to create the vibrations necessary to produce the electricity?

Only if you are willing to listen to Barry White all the time...
You'll never find,
another vibe like mine,
to shake those crystals,
the way I do...

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (2, Insightful)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532310)

But can it produce enough electricity to power a small radio that plays the music used to create the vibrations necessary to produce the electricity?

Am I missing something here? The summary clearly states - "any vibration can produce the effect, the system could one day be used to generate power from anything that produces noise — cars whizzing by on the highway, crashing waves in the ocean, or planes landing at an airport". Even if the conversion efficiency was MUCH less than it is (18% fta), it would still be worth it since you're using sound energy that is wasted anyway. It would be inefficient in principle but HUGELY efficient in practice since it would be using energy that is otherwise WASTED.

Re:This SOUNDS Like A Breakthrough! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532514)

Your absolutely right, you're just getting bogged down with the pedantic ramblings of the Slashdot crowd.

They're joking and arguing about a perpetual motion machine, nothing to do with reality...

Fuck you /. elitists (0, Flamebait)

You'reJustSlashFlock (1708024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531624)

I'm a bottom-dweller and I fuckin' like it that way. I don't want to be forced to read all of your high-minded, high-rated, hyperbolic waxing on bullshit you know nothing about and think you're making some sort of impact on the universe with because you had a stupid 2-paragraph, uninformed, heavily biased essay replete with missing words and other typographical errors get modded up by yet another set of heavily-biased clueless assholes.

I want to be down here with my brethren and view only our postings, as He intended things to be. Of course, that doesn't play well in the minds of the arrogant site owners who think that people only want to read what they want to read, so I'm left sifting through all the fuckin' bullshit that you elites puke out in ridiculous volumes.

Give me the option to have -1 given emphasis and leave me to post as much as I fuckin' like down here, you google-dick-sucking fucktards.

Re:Fuck you /. elitists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531662)

There's actually a bit of poetry to your comment history.

I'm not sure if you are going for absurd-ism based humor or if you're really that full of piss, vinegar, and flamebait.

Regardless, keep it up. Slashdot needs biodiversity in the posting pool. People using mod points on you will help to ensure that mediocre posts don't get undeserved +1's.

Re:Fuck you /. elitists (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531746)

Give me the option to have -1 given emphasis and leave me to post as much as I fuckin' like down here, you google-dick-sucking fucktards.

Um, not to be one of those self-absorbed, uninformed heavily biassed assholes, but I believe the first 'G' in google in you google-dick-sucking fucktards should be capitalized.

you Google-dick-sucking fucktards.

There, FTFY. Have a nice day.

Re:Fuck you /. elitists (0, Flamebait)

karlwilson (1124799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532092)

It seems your wish has been granted.

But Mom... (4, Funny)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531626)

"If we dont play it at full volume we wont be able to save the enviroment!" ;-)

Re:But Mom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531808)

At minimum your kids in the Apt below me would save me an electric bill. They rattle dishes in the cupboards.

Cost Effective? (3, Insightful)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531636)

Is this cheap?

If not, can this be made cheap?

Also, how much can this be scaled up?

Re:Cost Effective? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531844)

If it's cheap, can it be incorporated into bedsprings?

Re:Cost Effective? (4, Funny)

tms827 (1372955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532094)

If it's cheap, can it be incorporated into bedsprings?

I get the feeling that it would be of extremely limited use to the /. community if it were

Re:Cost Effective? (4, Funny)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532470)

Au Contraire, I'm certain the /. readers have already taken this problem into their own hands...

Thermodynamics (5, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531676)

It sounds (no pun intended) like this material would have to absorb energy from the sound wave. I wonder how well it would work as an acoustic barrier bordering a highway. It'd be refilled by rain, powered by noise, and it might just block the sound better than those lovely concrete walls we have now.

Re:Thermodynamics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531758)

Try "It seems like..."

Then there is no pun, intended or otherwise.

Re:Thermodynamics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532352)

I bet you love to eat cock, you whiny bitch.

Re:Thermodynamics (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531838)

    The #1 problem here would be.....

    If you had an infrastructure where highway barriers were full of water, generating a perfectly combustion mixture (like, not just good, but perfect) flowing into pipes, which would (obviously) need to be somewhere close to the road. If they are elevated, they run a risk of contact with a vehicle, or flames from an accident. I've seen bridges melt from accidents under them. Below the road, the gases rising create an extreme explosion hazard at ground level. One cigarette butt thrown out a window, and you could have an entire highway explode.

    Anywhere around a highway is a potential heavy impact and fire hazard. If you watch the news, you'll see the "freak" accidents where cars leave the road and end up in houses or other buildings, or burst into flames for various reasons. Anyone who's worked for a while as in the emergency response industry (police, fire, paramedics) have seen vehicles on their roof. Thousands of pounds of pressure may break a pesky hydrogen pipeline.

    I'm not against it though, it sounds like an interesting idea, although not a solution. If cars were powered by hydrogen instead of gasoline, and the noise on highways produced hydrogen to power them, the evil laws of thermodynamics jump in and say "don't get your hopes up."

Re:Thermodynamics (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531896)

Using some of that energy that being absorbed by the sound barrier sounds fine, even if that cars run on hydrogen. You are not going to be breaking the laws of thermodynamics, but if you get a better sound barrier with free hydrogen to boot, why not?

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531980)

    I agree. Some, but not all, would be recovered. Folks will get anxious if they aren't reminded.

    I'd worry more about the tremendous explosion risk. The farther away from the road, the less effective it would be. But, the closer you put it to the road, the larger risk it becomes. Being that not all accidents happen *on* the road, it's a huge risk. Beyond the mentions above, in one community I lived in, there was a nice car-sized hole in the concrete wall. It was down the street from me, so I never got the details, but enough energy to punch through a brick wall is enough to do all kinds of bad things.

    At the entrance of the same community, there was a brick island around a raised (approx 3' high) area full of soil and trees. The front of that was ruined by a minivan that landed roof-first on it. From what I recall, the paramedics radioed to the helicopter to turn around, since there weren't any survivors to rush to the hospital.

    Needless to say, it was a kinda dangerous road to be on. The speed limit was 55. People frequently did 65 to 80 (or more), and almost as frequently lost control and the result wasn't pleasant.

Re:Thermodynamics (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532034)

Seems like the actual barrier could be near the road with some guard rails in front of it and the rain reservoir quite far away. Reducing the risks somewhat. Besides the news networks would love this.

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532226)

    Well, you do have a valid point there. There's nothing better for the ratings that big explosions and body parts strewn along the roads.

    I'd hate to be on the cleanup crew when there's an accident on I-95 or I-10, and the explosion blows cars off the road for miles. I'd think it would be cost prohibitive to have flashback arrestors every few feet.

    Something like this [www.cbc.ca] would have been more catastrophic if a hydrogen/oxygen filled line was anywhere near it.

    Some accidents [google.com] have large fiery messes.

    I passed a burning car on I-5 once. The driver was out safely, and emergency crews were already on the scene when I got there. I guess it just caught fire, I didn't see any huge damage on it, but the flames were at least 15' high. His car was on the shoulder, and no cars were in the right lane because of the flames. I was in the second lane from the right, doing about 55, and even with my windows closed and air conditioner on (it was hot out that day), I could feel the heat through the window for just the second or so that I was near it.

    Pretty much, if it could happen, it will somewhere. That is, until we invent crash proof vehicles. :) Since we can't even prevent crashes on railroads, which are heavily controlled, I don't foresee that coming anytime soon.

 

Re:Thermodynamics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532778)

There seems to be a missing option in all of these comments. No one mentioned any possibility of having them under the road. I suppose the vibrations would be dampened more, but I see as safer as I don't believe cars could rupture the asphalt and I also doubt it would be able to catch fire. Next to this option would be some low structure that cars could drive over if they lose control (those low-riders being the only trouble).

In isolated locations the structure could be attached to under overpasses. All that echoing would increase performance as well as the distance that the energy made needs to travel would be reduced as overpasses are typically closer to higher traffic areas.

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531906)

I might be missing something, but we don't we just make the cars quieter?

Um, no (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531982)

I happen to enjoy the shriek of my Ferrari, you insensitive clod!

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

zethreal (982453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532020)

If we did that, we couldn't use the noise to make hydrogen for the cars they've been promising us for a decade!

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532044)

Adds mass to the car, meaning it is going to be getting even worse mileage.

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532962)

Of course electric cars (including hydrogen-to-electric cars) are MUCH quieter than internal combustion. That's the only problem with being efficient, there's less wasted energy to recover :)

Re:Thermodynamics (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532080)

...Hindenburg Highway?

Re:Thermodynamics (2, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532320)

    I can just see the headlines now. "1,000 dead as 1 mile of I-900 explodes into flames."

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

Trouvist (958280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533250)

OH THE HUMANITY!!!

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532370)

You could instead use a sound conductor, like a drum on the end of a pipe, channeling the sound to this device further away from the road.

The drum/channel might even improve the process. Audible sounds between 10Hz-41KHz would be attenuated at higher frequencies by the drum membrane, but some of that energy is added to the lower frequencies. Just an educated guess, but the piezoelectrochemical device probably works best over a specific narrow frequency range. I might have it backwards though, high frequencies could be better than low (small particles = short wavelength).

However, with loose particles vibrating against each other, the end result might be that the stuff breaks into smaller particles, becomes ineffective and doesn't yield enough hydrogen to be practical.

Re:Thermodynamics (2)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532460)

you could have an entire highway explode.

That would be AWESOME. Wait, I mean... oh the humanity.

Re:Thermodynamics (5, Insightful)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532744)

Before you start throwing around the fud, maybe you should check a few pesky facts. Lets start with current cars. Pretty much 4 wheels a cabin, an engine and big ass tank of flammable liquid with a low ignition point and a high explosive rating due to vapors. It's fuel air mixture is also fairly wide. To compare, we have hydrogen gas... Which has a narrow fuel air mix, a high ignition point, and which is lighter than air. So now we imagine a freeway with a wall on either side. The wall is an aquarium with crystals and a piping system to extract the hydrogen into the grid. Now, your car, which is a finely tuned BOMB ruptures the wall, breaking the aquarium and the gas lines. What happens? The water pours out, probably retarding any fire your car started, and the hydrogen goes straight up and dissipates harmlessly. Most likely, you never had a fuel air mix capable of igniting the hydrogen.

Liquid fuel used in automobiles is about as volatile as anything gets (at least in public spaces). Ng, Hydrogen and other compressed gasses are considerably safer. They dissipate quickly, require fairly small windows for ignition, and most of them require significantly more spark to fire up in the first place.

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532876)

    Consider what was suggested.

    The crystals would break down water. It releases hydrogen, sure. What do you think happens to the oxygen? It's in the same mixture. It's actually a very wonderful mixture, since it is broken down from a very happy molecule. I ran a torch on pure gases from electrolysis. It makes a nice hot and virtually invisible flame. That's a hint that it's a great mixture. Sure, the gases would rise, but it's rising from a pipe of some sort. If the barricade, as implied, contains the crystals, which react with the water, then that means your rising gases are close by too.

    Liquid fuel used in vehicles is flammable, but it requires an oxidizer (i.e., oxygen). So, the limit to how fast it can burn *IS* how much oxygen can get to it. Your fuel/air mixture concern is absolutely reversed. The ICE in your car regulates the mixture of atmospheric gasses with liquid fuel to make a combustible mixture.

    I can't say that I've ever spotted gasoline pipelines with connections to highway barricades. I have seen accidents with tanker trucks. They're big, messy, but isolated. They aren't long stretches of road. To the best of my knowledge, explosive gas pipelines don't run along highways at all.

The solution to this is obvious... (1)

bsharp8256 (1372285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532944)

Just ban smoking and car accidents. Problem solved.

Re:The solution to this is obvious... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31533138)

    I figured banning cars was the easier one. :)

    No cars would mean no car accidents. It would also mean that if we intended the system to be a fuel for the cars, then it wouldn't be needed.

    If they banned smoking, there would be a lot more upset people. :)

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531876)

That's what we need. Little tanks of hydrogen, all along our major highways. Maybe with pipes connecting them to refueling stations in our cities. Or course, it'll be too expensive to bury the pipes/tanks...

Re:Thermodynamics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532606)

Those concrete barriers are actually being replaced by Steel SIPs filled with expanded polystyrene foam, produced by a company called OceanSafe and sold in the northeast by a company called Hodara Property Management. They are made from recycled materials and the panels themselves are of course recyclable. They are both cheaper and more effective at blocking sound then concrete barriers and are extremely useful in home construction, their primary use. Although not wildly popular due to resistance from builders who are used to building with stick, Steel SIPs are to the construction industry what the computer was to the paper.

Re:Thermodynamics (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532660)

Although not wildly popular due to resistance from builders who are used to building with stick

Stick ? So you're one of the three little pigs ? Remind me never to visit your house.

Mr Wolf.

Interesting side-effect: (2, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531678)

Can be used as noise insulation. There might be some drawback to building walls serving as giant water tanks, but the upside is that living next to the freeway might actually have some benefits.

Re:Interesting side-effect: (0, Redundant)

lokiomega (596833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531728)

Wow. The guy above you beat you to the same exact idea one minute ago.

Car Troubles... (5, Funny)

cobryce (594622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531716)

The next time you see someone screaming at their car on the side of the road, they might just be fueling up ;)

Since when was oil needed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531724)

...as a catalyst for producing hydrogen from water? Every heard of hydrolysis by plain electrical current?

Re:Since when was oil needed... (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531860)

Keyword: catalyst.

Re:Since when was oil needed... (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532308)

But oil isn't used as a catalyst in those processes. There is a lot of research into catalysts that would facilitate the splitting of water, either by electricity or by sunlight; almost all of it centers around solid structures of transition metals like platinum. The confused summary is probably referring to the steam reforming of hydrocarbons, which is by far the largest industrial source of hydrogen (but hydrocarbons are the feedstock, not a catalyst). The process produces abundant hydrogen from water and methane, but is energy-intensive and directly produces large amounts of carbon dioxide (that carbon and oxygen had to go somewhere).

the plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31531732)

Why don't we design structures which will create the noise when wind blows over it?

Too little energy? (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531760)

I could be wrong, but I thought sound waves moving through air carried a surprisingly small amount of energy. When it comes with tangible vibrations, waves so strong they pulsed through the ground and other solids to reach you, the net effect might create significant amounts of energy, but just loud noises probably wouldn't give you much in the energy department, especially at 18% yield.

Re:Too little energy? (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531820)

I believe you are correct. Besides, it really doesn't strike me as very cost effective way to generate hydrogen, unless those crystals are extremely inexpensive to produce.

Re:Too little energy? (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532412)

Yeah, I think so. Recall, energy is conserved. So, compared to say, wind, where the energy level is high enough to move a huge mass of air around, the only thing they're talking about taking energy from is something at such low intensities that they're safe to use around the human ear (unless they stick them at airports, or strap them to jackhammers, or something).

Sound doesn't even usually waste much energy passing through things, if I recall correctly; I think most of the energy is lost from the expanding wavefront. Then, I suppose that's where the 18% efficiency number comes in.

I guess the only saving grace in this department is that it can (I assume) take input continuously and indiscriminately, especially if the materials are cheap.

Also, suddenly I'm imagining some kind of hardware failure in some of these devices that have run out of water, produced a lot of H, and are now suddenly buoyant. That would be amusing.

I think I need sleep.

Another idea: (1)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531850)

the system could one day be used to generate power from anything that produces noise — cars whizzing by on the highway, crashing waves in the ocean, or planes landing at an airport.

...what about nightclubs? I'm pretty sure the heavy bass would be able to produce at least enough energy to cover the lights, especially since they're off for the most part.

Re:Another idea: (1)

pitterpatter (1397479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532836)

...what about nightclubs? I'm pretty sure the heavy bass would be able to produce at least enough energy to cover the lights, especially since they're off for the most part.

Nightclubs?

Nightclubs?

What about Congress?

This invention is screaming to be used in DC.

Wall linings (3, Interesting)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531888)

If these can be manufactured cheaply enough, I imagine boards of this being made and marketed by Gib for any place where you want soundproofing or a room with 'dead' acoustics.

Any vibrations? (2, Interesting)

DirtySouthAfrican (984664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531994)

Maxwell's demon anyone?

Re:Any vibrations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532452)

Any vibrations?

Maxwell's demon anyone?

PERV!

Whats the real efficiency... (3, Insightful)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532016)

Compared to normal electrolysis of water?

Re:Whats the real efficiency... (4, Interesting)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532088)

In this discovery they use sound waves to get hydrogen (which you can later use to make electricity or move cars). Sound waves are being generated all over nature as a natural left over of different processes. On the other hand electrolysis requires electricity, which has a cost in our modern economy.

You should measure not only the efficiency, but the total cost of energy generation.

Re:Whats the real efficiency... (1)

doishmere (1587181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532190)

This is electrolysis. Piezoelectric materials produce an electrical current when pressure is exerted on them.

Re:Whats the real efficiency... (1)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532282)

Exactly! Still there's an innovation factor of harvesting the electricity used to do it from noise. It's still to be seen if this can produce enough hydrogen to power, say, a vehicle, without having to wait days to fill the tank.

Re:Whats the real efficiency... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532860)

Sound waves are being generated all over nature as a natural left over of different processes.

Sorry, but sound fucking sucks as an energy source. Take an 90 dB noise for instance, which is rather loud. What power does that noise deliver to a square meter of area? About 1 milliwatt.

It's interesting that they got the efficiency as high as they did, but even if it was 100% efficient, 1 milliwatt per square meter just absolutely blows. It's a waste of time.

Sounds to me like ... (1)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532036)

... the making of a lousy Keanu Reeves movie.

Re:Sounds to me like ... (2, Funny)

ardle (523599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532228)

"If this bus goes below 150 dB, we're dead".
I suppose it'd be called "Volume", and the next one "Volume 2".

Re:Sounds to me like ... (1)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532274)

I was actually thinking of this one [wikipedia.org] .

Nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532126)

Finally, we have a way to answer the timeless question: "If a tree falls in the forest, with no one around to hear it... Does it make a sound?"

I always knew it'd be YES, but the new question should be "Does it make hydrogen?" How naturally occuring is this Zinc Oxide crystal?

Piezo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532192)

Mmm, piezo [my-iolite.com] .

What does this mean..? (1, Interesting)

v4vijayakumar (925568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532222)

Can anyone say bit more clearly like,

- with ?? kg of this crystal and ?? kg of water one can drive a car for ?? km

- a car like this would cost ??

Re:What does this mean..? (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532668)

1
1
1
More than you earn, buddy

respectively.

This weeks Green Energy Hype (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532268)

So this was the best Slashdot could come up with for this weeks Green Energy Hype of the Week? Guess it was a slow week because this one is lamer than most.

Ok, ASSuming they can figure out a way to separate the H and O before they just combine again. ASSume this tech actually works outside the lab and can be scaled up. ASSume it performs as advertised when scaled up. 18% conversion efficiency on sound waves? Sound doesn't carry a lot of energy to begin with and they will harvest 18% of it before losses in compressing the H. Oh wow, if we ran this stuff down a mile of busy highway we MIGHT generate enough energy to push one crappy green gocart/car down that highway every day.

And that is the problem with most alternative energy schemes, they depend on ignorant people who don't know how the world works. There are LOTS of ways to extract energy from nature. The problem is that there aren't many that can compete with the existing sources because they are just so darned good, which was why we standardized on them in the first place. And if we actually do find a new good source, once scaled up it is a veritable certainty that we will discover that it too isn't a free lunch and that it also has a downside somewhere. And the second certainty is that the Greenies will be working to ban it because if it actually works it won't be alternative anymore. Kinda like music, when that great alternative/undergound band signs a contract and releases a hit most of their original fans declare them 'sellouts' and glom onto the newest unheard of band.

Re:This weeks Green Energy Hype (2, Insightful)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532486)

So wait, our current energy sources are so good and new ones might have problems so we should never try to innovate?

Re:This weeks Green Energy Hype (0)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532612)

No. He's saying that most just aren't practical.

Re:This weeks Green Energy Hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532692)

No, we should stop flipping the fuck out every time there's a new idea, and the media needs to stop heralding every new idea as a breakthrough destined to save mankind.

Our current sources are good. That's why we use them - abundant energy, with many years of refinement in harvesting it. New sources generally suck, and are much less "green" than they're made out to be.

That doesn't mean we should stop trying, and that's not what he said. He's just expressing doubt (his opinion) that we'll soon have something working, and he's making a well-grounded and realistic argument that even if we do, it will have its own problems and limitations, and not be the free lunch that all of these new technologies are made out to be.

Anyway, 18% is pretty poor energy conversion, even if the source of the input energy is "free." There's a lot of good concerns this person listed. To add to it, I'd wonder what level of purity of the water is required, and how we'll get this water to the generators. And, maybe more pressingly, how we appropriate this water to such inefficient means of energy generation when water rights and shortages are such a big deal around the world, the US included.

Re:This weeks Green Energy Hype (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532784)

So wait, our current energy sources are so good and new ones might have problems so we should never try to innovate?

No, just don't get over-excited about every new thing, without first looking at the costs and benefits. To use an analogy - if you're walking down the street with your girlfriend, it might not be a good idea to yell "boobies!" and run after every woman you see. Sure, you might get lucky now and then, but 99% of the time you're going to be disappointed.

Stop This Research (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532296)

Remember that Obama has declared the hydrogen car program ended (outlived its usefulness, apparently) and we must obey. It's just wrong to continue any research that might make progress in this area, after Obama's decree. It's especially wrong to disclose any new findings that might get people thinking that unexpected breakthroughs could happen. Thinking like that is not ok to stimulate, and must be stopped at any cost. Long term research really needs to be canceled.

Re:Stop This Research (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532414)

all I know is, the only thing you stimulate is a cock and a set of balls betweem the legs of fat pedophiles with your tongue. Cocksucker.

Ah, Zinc Oxide... (2, Funny)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532338)

Re:Ah, Zinc Oxide... (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532640)

The funny thing is that zinc oxide is being used in thermochemical engines [wikipedia.org] to produce hydrogen.

Yada yada yada (2, Interesting)

Orleron (835910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532394)

....another genuinely cool technology that we'll never see in widespread use.

This gas can't be transported... (3, Informative)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532516)

My question is this "If you're producing Hydrogen... aren't you also producing Oxygen at the very same time?" So here you are creating a combustible gas mixture in a stiochiometrically perfect balance to go BOOM-POW!!! The gases are created together, you can't easily separate them. You need to pump this straight into a combustion chamber or fuel cell, because it's ready, willing, and able to off the instant it's created. It cannot be transported anywhere.

Re:This gas can't be transported... (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532552)

My question is this "If you're producing Hydrogen... aren't you also producing Oxygen at the very same time?"

Yes. What you're really getting is so-called Brown's Gas, an oxy-hydrogen mixture. In conventional electrolysis you get the two gases produced at discrete electrodes, so it's easy to keep them physically separate.

Re:This gas can't be transported... (2, Interesting)

evilWurst (96042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532812)

> The gases are created together, you can't easily separate them.

H2 quickly rises. O2 slowly sinks (air is ~78% N2, and O2 is slightly heavier than N2).

So you build your water tank to have a lot of space above its "fill to here" line, and you put a long, thin, vertical tube out the top. Let the process go naturally until you trip a pressure gauge, at which point you bleed pure H2 from a valve at the top and almost-pure O2 from a valve at the bottom. You should get twice as much H2 as O2, of course (2 H20 yields 2 H2 + 1 O2).

If the system is otherwise airtight and fresh water is added from a higher tank to a point at the bottom of the main tank, you'll eventually suck all the "normal" air out through the O2 bleed, and from then on the O2 bleed will be tainted only by whatever came in already dissolved into the water.

Both the pure H2 capture tank and the almost-pure O2 capture tank are still dangerous, but at least you can separate them and use them for whatever you want. The H2 for a potential hydrogen economy, the O2 for industrial uses, maybe including things it's currently not used for since there isn't normally a cheap source of pure O2. I know yeast sucks O2 out of the air as it grows (breweries can be deadly to humans if not ventilated), and blast furnaces might benefit from richer air input.

Amazing Tech (2, Interesting)

thePig (964303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532584)

This is such a beautiful idea.
Beautiful beautiful idea.
I will never think of something like this.
I do not care whether it is possible to generate energy efficiently or not - this is a really really cool tech.

Here's an Idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532588)

While this of course wouldn't be effective as a primary generative source, it could be very useful as a secondary income/efficiency improvement. Some current examples similar situations are 1 - Sugar Beet Processors: They use the dried leftovers from the plants to power the plant for processing sugar beets, somewhere in Hawaii they used to generate all of the electricity for the community from the excess power at the sugar beet plant. 2 - Dairy farm Power: Some larger dairies these days actually use the methane generated off of the cow manure to generate power for the milking operation. The way I would see this specific technology being used is in industrial applications. Where you have large loud equipment, such as electrical turbines, car shreaders, metal presses, or anything else loud you would surround it with walls of the crystals and water, this would generate the company some hydrogen which it could either sell or run through a fuel cell and pump back into its operation. And as a nice side effect it would decrease the sound given off by the equipment making for a better working environment. Of course this only works if the crystals can be mass produced very cheaply.

Pardon my ignorance but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31532592)

Could someone tell me, does an equivalent amount of water split by this process eventually returns as water again? Or in other words... if this process were able to continue forever could it somehow permanently remove most of the water from the surface of the planet?

Fuel from sound? Not to be sexist, but.... (2, Funny)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532706)

Women with their "silent-but-deadlies" won't get as good gas mileage as men.

How are they going to collect it? (1)

director_mr (1144369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532760)

18% efficiency at converting Water to Hydrogen and Oxygen through sound doesn't sound very practical, efficient or useful. You would need to be in an environment with a LOT of sound, and that needed hydrogen. I can't think of many places like that.

I can see it now... (1)

Naedst (1313869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31532810)

In a few years time, you'll go into the Apple store with your iPhone saying that the battery just died. They'll check the water detection sensor and say the phone is dead and it's not under warranty because you let it run out of water.

So either way, you're still screwed.

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