×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Possible Breakthrough In Hydrogen Energy

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the doing-what-comes-naturally dept.

Power 326

destinyland writes "MIT researchers have developed a method of splitting a water molecule by emulating the way blue-green algae separates oxygen from hydrogen. One chemistry professor called it 'an extremely clever piece of work' that addresses 'the nanoscale organization of the components.' Using sunlight rather than electricity to make hydrogen from water could greatly improve the efficiency of the process. The hydrogen can be stored for generating electricity or burned as fuel for cars. The project is being led by the winner of a 2004 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, who uses genetically engineered viruses as templates for nanoscale electronic components. 'Suddenly, I wondered, what if we could assemble materials like the abalone does — but not be limited to one element?'" Here is the press release from MIT; the research paper is available only to subscribers of Nature Nanotechnology (or those willing to part with $18).

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

326 comments

Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179328)

Niggers!

Re:Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179356)

Fag!

Re:Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179394)

GNAA!

Nanoscale Viruses? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179376)

So what happens if they mutate?

Re:Nanoscale Viruses? (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179444)

The only reason viruses are hard to deal with has to do with the fact that we can't accidentally kill the host trying to "kill" the virus. Since there isn't a host worth worrying about in this design, we don't have to be nice; we can just wipe the virus out without mercy.

Re:Nanoscale Viruses? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179636)

Unless, of course, these viruses escape and replicate. Imagine the scientist's surprise when 70% of his body is decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen! I'm also fond of the 3/4 of the Earth's surface.

  I'm only half joking.

What happens at night? (4, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179386)

Using sunlight rather than electricity [...]

What happens if I run out of hydrogen at night?

Re:What happens at night? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179416)

You go back to regular Grid?

Re:What happens at night? (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179426)

If you want to store energy at night you'd probably be better off going with solar thermal + liquid salt thermal storage + water thermochemical cracking. Hydrogen is better used as a chemical fuel or used in synthesizing other chemicals. It's very good at reducing things or powering fuel cells but as a method of storing solar energy on a daily basis, not so much.

Re:What happens at night? (2)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179656)

OR he could just buy another tank so he doesn't run out again.

Yeah, wonder how safe that is. The neighborhood has a couple thousand tons of hydrogen in buried tanks.

Re:What happens at night? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179590)

It's called sleep. Try it sometime.

Re:What happens at night? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179804)

You’ll kick yourself for not thinking ahead and building a plant that creates enough hydrogen in advance to get to even the worst night times 10? ;)

Seriously. The granary is what... the second item of all you’ll ever build in a city in Civilization? Its advances should teach you something about buffering. ^^

Re:What happens at night? (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179872)

What happens if I run out of hydrogen at night?

You have to make H while the sun shines.

Re:What happens at night? (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180024)

You have to make H while the sun shines.

And where the sun doesn't shine, you can always make CH4...

Re:What happens at night? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32180308)

the same as what happens if you run out of gas at night, your car stops.

which is better (4, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179400)

Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

Humans have shown over and over that in large groups we use all the resources available, don't slow or restrain ourselves in time to save ourselves, and unless there are consistent, strict rules and provisioning in place, we exhaust available resources.

I think it would be better for the long term survival of the species if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources for several generations, and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth. If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

Re:which is better (5, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179430)

If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

Re:which is better (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179476)

Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

The surface area of the Earth is finite. Our appetite for energy is not. The amount of surface available for energy production is much smaller when you subtract oceans and places to grow our food.

Re:which is better (4, Interesting)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179496)

Who says we have to restrict ourselves to the surface?

Re:which is better (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179582)

Who says we have to restrict ourselves to the surface?

Then its a bit like putting the Earth at the focus of a mirror. We would need to find a source of cooling at the same time. Don't want wind up like the Puppeteers.

Re:which is better (2, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179768)

Then its a bit like putting the Earth at the focus of a mirror. We would need to find a source of cooling at the same time. Don't want wind up like the Puppeteers.

Two heads and your brain in your ass?

Re:which is better (3, Informative)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179560)

170 petawatts. We use 10 terrawatts. But our energy demands are fixed. Even the hated USA uses 10 kW per person. And as societies get more industrial, people have less kids (apparently, people like cars, computers, cell phones, etc. more than kids). The best way to conserve energy is to promote economic development, so we start to reduce population growth. One thing about the sun though is that if you fill the whole planet with solar panels, you do not run out of energy. You just get 170 petawatts. We can't use it up until peak solar in the year 1 billion (approx) because the sun will start to explode. When we do, I think we won't care about sunlight anymore, except to light our crew cabins :-p.

Re:which is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179788)

The surface area of the Earth is finite. Our appetite for energy is not.

Our appetite for REPRODUCING is not.

There... Fixed it for you...

It's not only energy that's going to run out if we don't adopt the lead of the Chinese and start cracking down on humanity breeding like fucking rabbits.

If any"thing" HAS developed sufficiently to have invented FTL and ever visited, they'd probably have hi-tailed it out of here saying "Nice planet, shame about the infestation that's destroying it"...

Re:which is better (3, Interesting)

wye43 (769759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179932)

The surface area of the Earth is finite. Our appetite for energy is not.

Don't take infinity so lightly. Our current appetite for energy is definitely finite. If you intended to say that from an infinite timeframe point of view, many things are infinite, and while humanity's appetite for energy in an infinite timeframe is possible to be infinite, it’s improbable, as it's over optimistic to assume we are going to exist forever.

Re:which is better (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179698)

If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

Except sunlight isn't expected to run out in a timeframe that humanity can fathom.

neither is hydrogen :)

Re:which is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179822)

As far as I know it runs out at the end of each day. Having only half the earth's surface capture enough solar energy for the whole surface is a big challenge.

Re:which is better (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179442)

Considering that all life on this planet has a tendency to expand to consume all available resources, I wouldn't count on a cultural change to rectify the consumptionist problem.

But don't cry a tear for poor H20. The water is not consumed when you create Hydrogen; when recombined with Oxygen it forms water again. You're not getting energy "out" of water. You're getting energy out of solar radiation. The water is merely a temporary medium to be broken apart to store energy, and re-combined to release it.

Re:which is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179600)

Assuming the hydrogen gas is burnt. If it escapes, it is capable of leaving the earths atmosphere [wikipedia.org]

Re:which is better (2, Informative)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179696)

The amount of hydrogen that escapes that way will be very small. That's wasting money, and no self-respecting capitalist pig would let that happen! But seriously, most of the hydrogen would be reacted with CO2 to create the liquid fuels we all know and love.

Hydrogen == Battery (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179738)

You're not getting energy "out" of water. You're getting energy out of solar radiation.

Yup, hydrogen is just a battery: you charge it by removing the oxygen, then discharge it by burning it (which recombines the oxygen atoms and reforms water).

(unless, of course, you're doing fusion, then hydrogen IS a power source)

Re:which is better (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179468)

Clearly the solution is to both develop advanced cheap energy and work to "live within our means."

Re:which is better (2, Insightful)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179526)

You start. Turn of your computer. We'll have another industrial revolution and you'll be left in the dust with that kind of attitude. Would you like to move to Africa or Cuba?

Re:which is better (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179700)

Africa is his best bet. Life expectancies in the 40s. That should be suitable pre-industrial age nostalgia.

Re:which is better (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179744)

Yeah. Maybe we should start coming up with a way to send all these anti-tech people there? Should we pay for flights back?

Re:which is better (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180132)

Flights? You technophile monster. Gaia demands that we make a raft by lashing them together with hemp, then throw them in the sea and give them a shove to get them started.

Re:which is better (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179736)

I'd take Cuba, at least they have universal healthcare.

Re:which is better (1)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180188)

You start. Turn of your computer. We'll have another industrial revolution and you'll be left in the dust with that kind of attitude. Would you like to move to Africa or Cuba?

He'd fit right in in Northwestern Pakistan...9th century Taliban mentality, eschewing all modernity, and waxing self-righteous as they force themselves and others into deprevation. He'd even get to keep the hypocrasy of using modern technology (chemicals, bomb-making materials, land rovers) while depriving others. He might even make it through the next predator-drone strike if he keeps his head down, though life expenctancy isn't great, and the retirement benefits pretty much suck.

As for the rest of us, we'll continue going about trying to improve our world, rather than demanding others shrink theirs, thank you very much.

Re:which is better (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180252)

Cuba would be a lot better off if the fucking 800lb gorilla on its doorstep agreed to, you know, let it trade fairly.

Re:which is better (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179606)

Do the right thing. Kill yourself and all your family to conserve the resources.

Re:which is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179644)

dr douchebag, you mispelled your name.

Re:which is better (3, Insightful)

fryjs (1456943) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179674)

Yes, how horrible it would be to have another "industrial revolution" type of growth where the abundance of cheap energy allows another massive increase in standard of living. If you are actually concerned about the long term survival of the species, we need ever cheaper and easier sources of energy to expand into the galaxy, and the quicker the better (in terms of odds).

Re:which is better (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179692)

Yeah... except we're still here. And don't give me that "For now" bullshit - even near-total devastation of the Earth, massive nuclear war, there will still be that 1% struggling on.

And I honestly don't believe it'll get that bad. We are fortunate to have people like you to watch people like me like hawks, so that all the alarms are sounded, and far away, in a distant room, a scientist bursts into an office and shouts "MR. PRESIDENT! WE HAVE GOT TO STOP USING OIL!", he gets thrown into jail, the public finds out, Britain has another revolution, France gets invaded, and so on.

tl;dr: You're wrong, but you can't stop shouting.

And I say that with respect, good sir.

Re:which is better (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179742)

Exactly! We need to further our research instead on ultrasonic birth control. It's terrible that we didn't stop inventing new power sources before we came up with nuclear fission power back 80 years ago in the 30s. If we had just had the forsight to shutdown all these new power technologies before then we would be well on our way to keeping the human population within controllable limits.

Smith knows the answer (1)

wye43 (769759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179790)

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.

Re:which is better (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179808)

Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

Does it have to be either/or?

Humans have shown over and over that in large groups we use all the resources available, don't slow or restrain ourselves in time to save ourselves, and unless there are consistent, strict rules and provisioning in place, we exhaust available resources.

I think it would be better for the long term survival of the species if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources for several generations, and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth. If discover or invent an even cheaper, easier way to get energy out of water now, we'll have another "industrial revolution" type of growth, and come to an even worse dead-end when that runs out too.

Either we work on technology *right* now or when we do run out, the economy grinds to a halt and shit really hits the fan. There is a reason governments that have their eyes 20 years down the road take money from our collective taxes and use them to fund research in sustainable energy solutions, no matter how much the Atlas Shrugged-thumpers would like us to believe the free market will take care of everything.

Steering the usage of energy is relatively simple. I pay about 8 eurocents of taxes on every kWh of electricity I use, so I have a vested interested in not using more than I need. Same principle applies to gasoline. Whether or not these taxes are then used for their proper purposes is a different debate ;-) Of course this would never work in the US...

Re:which is better (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179844)

I'm an Atlas Shrugged thumper and I want investment in clean energy. Why, because it's free! Turn something free (sunlight) into energy, megaprofits! Sell people devices to do that, megaprofits! The people have spoken, the market is following.

Disclaimer: the poster is not an extreme freemarketeer, and sees value in regulation and taxation.

Poor, poor self-hating humans... (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179848)

A bacteria colony might do the same. It seems to be a side-effect of life and the alternatives are usually catastrophe, starvation, pestilence/disease or whatever thinning, decimating or simply eradicating the organism 'naturally'. Personally I like humanity warts and all, so I vote amazing ways to create energy from resources now please.

As an added bonus if we prove to be clever enough as an organism our reach (and therefore our available resources) might extend far beyond this beautiful little rock we call home.

Re:Poor, poor self-hating humans... (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179874)

Actually, the fact that we think ahead and find new sources of energy, like this, indicates that we are above a bacteria colony. If we're a bacteria colony, we would just burn oil until we ran out. But, we would not have oil in the first place, because we would have died when we ran out of whale oil.

Re:which is better (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180158)

When we run out of cheap, easy energy sources, the "new culture " is going to be based on grabbing what's left, same as every "old culture" we've ever had.

We can choose two futures: Star Trek, or Mad Max. The difference is availability of energy.

Re:which is better (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180166)

Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

The two are not mutually exclusive, so why not live within our means and try to find sustainable solutions to expand those means?

Re:which is better (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180278)

Would it be better to find new and amazing ways to create energy from resources now, or would it be better for humanity to first learn to live within our means as oil runs out?

It is better to find new ways to harvest and manipulate energy (remember kids, energy can not be destroyed or created, only transformed) because:

a) Population growth is a clear trend in humanity (nobody wants to die!)
b) More resources(food, space and tools) are needed for bigger population.
c) More energy is needed to produce such resources.

and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth.

You are going against the basic cycle of any living ogranism, born/reproduce/die. As I said, nobody wants to die; everybody wants to live more, therefore the population growth trend will likely continue.

Re:which is better (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32180314)

I think it would be better for the long term survival of the species if we ran out of cheap, easy energy sources for several generations, and we designed new culture based on long term sustainability instead of constant growth

Yeah, that worked out so well in Mad Max. Great idea.

post is another kdawson screwup (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179404)

They did NOT split hydrogen, they split oxygen from water.

kdawson, RTFA.

Re:post is another kdawson screwup (1)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179436)

But... but... splitting oxygen from water leaves you with hydrogen, which is the same as splitting hydrogen from water.

Re:post is another kdawson screwup (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179480)

not if the process means the hydrogen gets bound up in your catalyst or leaves it in some other unusable form.

efficiency (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179406)

This is from what I've read on the subect, quite impressive in terms of how it works however, this isn't a technology that is very likely capable of exceeding the efficiency of a few other methods of producing Hydrogen. 10% solar => Hydrogen efficiency would be impressive for a biological system but well within reach of other technologies like solar thermal [wikipedia.org] + water thermochemical cracking [wikipedia.org] This technology might be of use if alternatives remain comparatively expensive.

Re:efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179450)

The advantage I could see is smaller scale. Solar thermal takes a large investment. A biological system potentially could be even scaled to home sized or at least to provide hydrogen for refueling stations. Transportation and storage are still the biggest things that need to be over come to make hydrogen practical. It's one thing to make the fuel but it's still hard to transport. For infrastructure it's always better to have a hundred sources rather than one for a given area. One plant goes down and no hydrogen, one filling station goes down and it has little affect.

Re:efficiency (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179528)

As someone who both worked on this biological route and saw this thesis defense (FYI, this is a dupe of an earlier story), and someone who is now working on the solar thermal route, I agree so heartily I was amazed to actually read this comment here. This is exactly the correct analysis -- extremely cool science, brilliant work, but no chance of being an actual engineering solution. As far as "comparitively expensive", the solar thermal routes we work on use metal oxides like FeO/Fe2O3 which is completely recovered while the biological route we use incorporates IrO2... and degenerates after 4-5 cycles. This seems like a no-brainer to me. However, the quantum efficiency trends due to cross coupling, the gel method of suspending wires, etc were all absolutely fascinating ideas.

I should probably start logging in at some point so that people actually read my comments. A shame I can't be bothered to remember my password.

Re:efficiency (5, Interesting)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179682)

I should probably start logging in at some point so that people actually read my comments. A shame I can't be bothered to remember my password.

Yes you should. This is very very interesting that someone who works on thermochemical reads slashdot!!! Are you on the CR5 at Sandia? I'm a highschool student who spent a lot of spare time looking at various thermochemical schemes. Trying to understand the chemical engineering behind them. You can read my conclusions if you want. Please keep in mind that I have no real lab and haven't done any experiments.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that I liked FeO/Fe2O3 the best. The problem I saw was passivation of the iron oxide. So I looked many ways to get rid of this problem. By either misting molten FeO, grinding FeO into smaller particles, reaction with acids, etc. But one I found that I think has not been considered is the disproportion of the FeO. FeO disproportionate at temps below about 500 C as 4FeO -> Fe + Fe3O4. I have no idea what the resulting mixture looks like mechanically when this happens, but according to stuff I read it does indeed happen. Thermodynamic calculations with NIST data show that the reaction is favorable. Metalic iron reacts much better with steam than FeO, AFAIK.

The next cycle I liked was the ISPRA mark 2 sodium manganese cycle:

1. Na2O.MnO2 + H2O -> 2NaOH(a) + MnO2 at 100 C
2. 4MnO2(s) -> 2Mn2O3(s) + O2(g) at 487 C
3. Mn2O3 + 4NaOH -> 2Na2O.MnO2 + H2(g) + H2O at 800 C
This seemed quite good except for that high temperature NaOH.

This weird cycle came up in one of Ken Schultz's papers and I found it quite interesting. It's all liquid, and it seems quite strange. Could it work? I have no idea. There could be corrosion problems, with the KOH.
1. K2O2 + H2O -> 2KOH + O2 at 100 C
2. 2KOH + 2K -> 2K2O + H2 at 725 C
3. 2K2O -> 2K + K2O2 at 850 C

Another idea I had was what I call the thermoelectrochemical engine. Here's how it works. You have two metals, A and B. A can be smelted from it's oxide by hydrogen or CO, and B can reduce water or CO2. There is a non-trivial potential difference between the two metals. For example, A = iron, and B = tin. I'm guessing you can see where this is going.
1. 2Fe + SnO2 -> 2FeO + Sn + 0.5ish V in aqueous electrolyte
2. Sn + 2H2O -> SnO2 + 2H2 at some slightly elevated temperature.
3. 2FeO + 2H2 -> 2Fe + 2H2O at some elevated temperature
There are probably better metals than iron and tin but I picked them because I'm pretty sure they'd work.

Thanks for reading. I'm thinking that FeO is better than sulfur-iodine because there's no high temp separation, and no corrosives running around at high temperature.

Re:efficiency (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180058)

The UT-3 cycle + the ferrite cycle might work better in combination. Ferrite water cracking until the material is passivated at which point UT-3 [www.cea.fr] takes over in a separate reaction chamber

Re:efficiency (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180066)

What happens to the oxygen in this process? Could it be easily recombined with the hydrogen and thus another desalination method?

Re:efficiency (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180148)

It would be far more efficient to use salt water as a coolant in conventional power stations using the waste heat from producing power to evaporate pure water from sea water. Using sea water in these thermochemical processes would be disasterous from a design standpoint due to side reactions and contamination of the reactor with salt.

Efficiency doesn't matter (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179452)

This could be a winner even if efficiency isn't great.

Yes, there are nightmare problems handling hydrogen (invisible flame, leaks through many materials)

BUT - provided it's durable and cheap you have Solar power that works 24 hours/day. Turn electricity to hydrogen by day, burn hydrogen or run a fuel cell by night.

 

Re:Efficiency doesn't matter (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179548)

Burn the Hydrogen down to Methane, then use the methane with existing technology and infrastructure. Crack atmospheric CO2 to provide the carbon for Methane so you have a closed cycle.

Some buses run on methane right now.

Re:Efficiency doesn't matter (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179782)

Actually, you don't want to burn down to methane, and it's not really "burning" (maybe it is). It would be better to make gasoline, instead of methane (easier to transport, runs a normal car). The process is here [wikipedia.org] . Here's the chemistry:

CO2 + H2 = CO + H2O
xCO + (2x+1)H2 = CxH(2x+2) + xH2O
Where x often equals 8.

Re:Efficiency doesn't matter (1)

jurgemaister (1497135) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180012)

Actually, methane is a really good idea. Normal petrol fueled cars run fine on methane gas if you install a pretty cheap injection kit. Also, burning gas in stead of petrol leaves close to zero particles in the air, and drastically reduces the emission of NOx gasses.
Infrastructure is not very hard to achieve, and is actually already in place in parts of Europa.

Re:Efficiency doesn't matter (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180170)

No... the GP is right... Methane is a gas and gases like Methane are a lot harder to store in comparison to gasoline. Methane can be stored in two major ways: 1) high pressure/adsorbed on to a sponge-like material or 2) in cryogenic liquid form. The former isn't terribly good at storing enough Methane to be competitive with Gasoline and the latter requires active refrigeration and spills are extremely dangerous.

Re:Efficiency doesn't matter (2, Interesting)

jobst (955157) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179712)

wonder how many current (global/giant/energy) firms will be trying (very VERY hard) to clobber this ... starting with large advertising campaigns aka "this will not work blah blah blah"! I have got solar power on my roof and I hear a lot of people saying "not efficient enough" ... well bugger them, at the current rate I will have paid this off in 5 years time and from then onwards ...

it's nothing, kapitalist dogs! (2, Funny)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179498)

Dupe! And Unobtianium Alert!!! (5, Informative)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179520)

This story appears to be a dupe [slashdot.org] .

Iridium, a form of unobtainium, is used. This costs upwards of $13,000 per kg. About 3 tons are produced a year.

Re:Dupe! And Unobtianium Alert!!! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179554)

This story appears to be a dupe [slashdot.org] .

Iridium, a form of unobtainium, is used. This costs upwards of $13,000 per kg. About 3 tons are produced a year.

We should hope for more cometary impacts then.

Re:Dupe! And Unobtianium Alert!!! (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179646)

"Iridium oxide catalyst". It's unlikely to require much iridium. Catalytic converters in cars use platinum and still aren't horribly expensive.

Re:Dupe! And Unobtianium Alert!!! (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179774)

In other news, Slashdot editor kdawson has engineered a method to take credit for stories fellow Slashdot editor Soulskill posted to the front page one month earlier. The hope is to eventually never worry about a slow news day, but there's still a lot of research and development to done before it scales to widespread production.

Over-rated (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179544)

Some genuinely incredible work has come out of the labs at MIT; however, the work described in this article is pedestrian. Frankly, Prof. Belcher is a seriously over-rated, one-trick pony. Don't get me wrong, it's a hugely impressive trick - essentially directed evolution of viruses to get their capsid (i.e., proteinaceous component) to selectively bind to [whatever], but she applies it to whatever the current hot topic is, such as the photocatalytic splitting of water, and has absolutely done it to death. It's her hammer for the world of research nails.

Some of you may recall one of her papers a few years ago on virus-based lithium ion batteries. That work was also Belcher's brainchild, used the exact same techniques as are found in this Nature Nanotech paper, and was also ridiculously over-rated.

The problem with MIT is shameless self-promotion - and it's self-perpetuating because people (even the MIT professors spouting their own greatness) believe it. Another example is Robert Langer, whose work is fine but unremarkable. However, because he's so well known and great at self-promotion, he gets papers in Science/Nature/etc. As a result, his fame continues and the accolades continue to pour in.

It's frustrating to watch, knowing that fame and accolades are often undeserved when brilliant work from lesser known researchers goes unnoticed, but there's really no solution other than to point out when particular academics get more recognition than they deserve and hope that others reading agree and spread the word.

All the buzzword (3, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179574)

MIT, hydrogen, green, McArthur grant winner, genetic engineering, nano something or other, all these buzz bullshit in the short summary paragraph.

Stinks of bullshit to the high heaven.

Re:All the buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32179668)

Stinks of bullshit to the high heaven.

I think you're right.
Let's see,

We have photosynthesis used to split H2O apart. No mention of CO2 anywhere,

Yeah, I'm sure that soon they will be able to split bullshit into its components and provide an un-extinguishable source of energy.

I like my consumer electronics virus-free (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179592)

...uses genetically engineered viruses as templates for nanoscale electronic components...

What could possibly go wrong?!

Isn't electrolysis 60+% efficient? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179714)

Last I heard, hydrogen generation by electrolysis was well over 50% efficient.

The problem with hydrogen isn't making it. That's easy. The problem is storing it, which involved dealing with energy losses through compression and diffusion. Or with getting a carbon source and attaching the hydrogen to carbon, which leads to a convenient storage form.

Wake me again when they can efficienty make, say, methane from electrolytically generated hydrogen and CO2 extracted from the air. Then we're talking.

Re:Isn't electrolysis 60+% efficient? (5, Interesting)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179812)

Yes, electrolysis is 70%+ efficient. But, it first must go through that pesky and pricey 20% efficient solar panel, so you get %14 solar to hydrogen. Wouldn't it be great if we could skip that solar panel and all the associated pricing, and go right to hydrogen? That's what this is about.

Also, you don't want methane. You want gasoline. By the time you end up with methane, you have gasoline. Baking soda is a carbon dioxide capture system. We pretty much already have the technology, and I wish someone with a real lab (not me) would do a tech demo.

Re:Isn't electrolysis 60+% efficient? (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 3 years ago | (#32179930)

Yes, electrolysis is 70%+ efficient. But, it first must go through that pesky and pricey 20% efficient solar panel,

True. But there are other renewable source with intermittent output that can be used for electrolysis, like wind power. And where I live, the potential power from wind is about five times that of solar.

Also, you don't want methane. You want gasoline. By the time you end up with methane, you have gasoline.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'd be happy with methane first, since it's already much easier to handle than plain hydrogen. Synthesizing longer chain hydrocarbons might make the fuel more convenient, but also requires more effort.

Baking soda is a carbon dioxide capture system.

The problem with CO2 is that you'll need _lots_ for the industrial process, and there's only very little of it air (300-something ppm). Extracting that is a major pain in the rear (i.e. requires lots of energy).

Re:Isn't electrolysis 60+% efficient? (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 3 years ago | (#32180216)

The problem with CO2 is that you'll need _lots_ for the industrial process, and there's only very little of it air (300-something ppm). Extracting that is a major pain in the rear (i.e. requires lots of energy).

Don't forget that you can take the CO2 direcly from the sources, and here is a lot of CO2 sources.
Powerplants
ethanol factories(fermention)
air destilators(making nitrogen, oxygen, argon and CO2)
+other stuff...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...