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Spinach Could Be Used For Hydrogen Fuel

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the energy-and-vitamins-in-one-healthy-package dept.

Power 105

An anonymous reader writes "If Popeye had made alternative fuels, he'd have probably come up with something like this. Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a system that converts solar energy directly into hydrogen using the common spinach plant."

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Fuel economy (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145760)

How many miles per acre do you get?

Re:Fuel economy (1)

h4x0t (1245872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145780)

Needs another denominator. Miles per acre per year or month?

Re:Fuel economy (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146578)

Let's see. Do you want to know in m^-1 or 1/feet?

Re:Fuel economy (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146586)

26 poles! And not a stone less.

Re:Fuel economy (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148866)

I thought poles was the unit for builders per bathroom?

re Kyocera Echo (-1, Offtopic)

freddieb (537771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145778)

I have had Sprint for a number of years. I have one android phone on my account and my only criticism is the battery life. I expect this dual screen phone will have horrible battery life. I think Sprint really missed the mark on this one. I think most Sprint users were hoping for the iphone4 since Verizon does not have an exclusive contract on that device. Maybe Sprint is not in a position financially to introduce the Iphone. The big intro of the Kyocera may generate enough outcry to bring some new hardware to Sprint. Hopefully the Iphone and/or some of the Motorola Droids.

Re:re Kyocera Echo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146146)

wrong tab, dude.

I eats me spinach (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145810)

Where are all the Popeye jokes?

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145982)

Where are all the Popeye jokes?

There's a 15 year statue of limitations on Slashdot jokes. That's why we don't get Popeye jokes but we do +5 flying chair and BSOD jokes.

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146474)

Where are all the Popeye jokes?

There's a 15 year statue of limitations on Slashdot jokes. That's why we don't get Popeye jokes but we do +5 flying chair and BSOD jokes.

[OT] Haven't seen any references to FSM/noodly-appendages in a while, even the occasions weren't missing.
Right... it's no longer a matter of jokes, it wouldn't be politically correct.

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146502)

Huh?

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146758)

(hint: google for the terms)

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35153590)

FSM is my chosen deity (so I know what the terms refer to) and I still have no clue what c0lo meant.

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146906)

statue of limitations

Is that near Ellie's Island?

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148304)

Aahhh the statue of limitations. Is that one in the Uffizi gallery or the Louvre?

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35151408)

Heh. For the record, that was a typo and not a misspelling!

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35150100)

"15 year statue of limitations on Slashdot jokes."

As Popeye said while wearing a straw wig on Goon Island: "Hair today, goon tomorrow."

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146044)

Popeye didn't eat it for just the hydrogen, he defeated his enemies with SpinaCH4!

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146596)

Sulfur Potassium Iodine Sodium Methane? That's one bizarre molecule!

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154254)

Nono, not SPINa, Spina. Obviously it's some new element not yet on the chart.

And even if it were SPINa, that'd be Sulfur Phosphorus Iodine Sodium. :P

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146104)

Can't they use the same technology to convert other organic substances like olive oil and sweet peas?

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146206)

in my pants

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147858)

Pre-empted by the summary. Nobody wants to post a Popeye joke when it's already been done up top.

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147946)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf1doHEBx-o

Re:I eats me spinach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148468)

Boy, Popeye's gonna be pissed when he sees what this does to spinach prices.

People have it ALL wrong about PopEye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148892)

Popeye really wasn't eating the spinach... he was smoking it!

(Why do you think 1/2 the time he would be shown sucking it down thru that corncob pipe of his, hmmm?)

Re:I eats me spinach (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149052)

1975

Hey! We can turn snot and gold into super premium! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35145822)

Billions of dollars and man hours wasted just so we don't have to give up our cars for a quick run down to the store. Cheap oil is cultural heroin. The developed world is proof positve, you monkeys.

Re:Hey! We can turn snot and gold into super premi (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146322)

The problem with hydrogen is *still* storage, production is easy. A quick run to the store takes several cubic feet of the gaseous stuff.

Re:Hey! We can turn snot and gold into super premi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35153192)

That cheap oil is why you've got a computer to sit posting on Slashdot with in between your bouts of watching hentai, you monkey.

sounds like ethanol all over again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35145836)

Food based fuels are worthless. Extremely low yield and drives food costs up and deletes food supplies, and you need an acre of land to produce a gallon of usable fuel.

Re:sounds like ethanol all over again (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145888)

I know it's too much to ask you to actually read the article but this method does not convert spinach to fuel. It uses a spinach protein as a catalyst to produce hydrogen. If you recall, catalysts are not consumed, they facilitate reactions. In fact, TFA says that the spinach protein membrane is self healing.

Popeye was really on to something.

Re:sounds like ethanol all over again (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146070)

If you recall, catalysts are not consumed, they facilitate reactions.

Just because a catalyst is not consumed in the reaction does not mean that secondary effects from the reaction can't or won't ruin/destroy the catalyst.

If you're using an organic catalyst, I'd expect it to get broken down somehow as a result of the reaction.

Re:sounds like ethanol all over again (1)

SylvanCyke (1375051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148290)

Furthermore, "sounds like"'s post is blatant misinformation. Well researched plans on used vegetable oil have been well researched. Essentially used or dead plants can be implemented as a fuel source. The entire negative case is spurious.

Re:sounds like ethanol all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35149170)

I know it's too much to ask you to actually read the article but this method does not convert spinach to fuel. It uses a spinach protein as a catalyst to produce hydrogen. If you recall, catalysts are not consumed, they facilitate reactions. In fact, TFA says that the spinach protein membrane is self healing.

Popeye was really on to something.

Is the spinach edible following this process? No? Then the parent's point is valid and yours is not. There's a lot more to spinach than just the protein, even if you're eating Baby Food spinach, and I'm pretty sure extracting it and using it in this type of process would not result in human-consumable food product.

Attention, alternative Fuel researchers: Stop trying to find ways to use Food for other things. We already are short on food. Try converting the other stuff into food instead.

Food-based fuels are great for my portfolio (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148176)

1) Take proceeds from myy sugar and corn ETFs that went up from Ethanol;
2) Sit back and wait for Spinach ETF;
3) Profit.

Re:sounds like ethanol all over again (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148966)

That won't stop people from trying to discover new alternative fuels, pitied fool.

That's nothing. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145860)

I can convert beans into methane in my large intestine.

--
BMO

Re:That's nothing. (1)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146092)

Yes, but what is its efficiency?

Re:That's nothing. (2)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146154)

three trips per can.....to the toilet.

Re:That's nothing. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146486)

Yes, but what is its efficiency?

Funny coincidence, I was asking myself the same thing in relation with the spinach-catalyst... the TFA doesn't say a word about it.

Re:That's nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35150496)

In all seriousness, I've wondered for awhile why there hasn't been more research into this.

I thought we were over this? (0)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145862)

At this point, anything that has hydrogen in it or can turn into hydrogen somehow can be used as fuel these days but for what purpose was this research made for? The government already stated that they don't want an alternative fuel to be crop-related so there's not going to be any mass-market for this unless they plan on designing a Popeye mech. It won't be long before we struggle for food worldwide without innovating new ways (redundant much?) to mass-produce crops. Pigs will probably have to fly in a floating pig pen because there won't be much room to breed and eat them, and cows will have to live on the moon. Of course I'm joking and I sure hope Oak-ridge is also joking about using Spinach as fuel. They need to focus on fusion like they used to before Clinton canned their fusion project (unless they are researching it now)

Re:I thought we were over this? (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146032)

Well if you RTFA you will come notice that the spinach is not the energy source in this case. It is being used as a catalyst for the hydrogen production.

Re:I thought we were over this? (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146160)

At this point, anything that has hydrogen in it or can turn into hydrogen somehow can be used as fuel these days but for what purpose was this research made for?

To answer your question, FTFA:

âoeWeâ(TM)re building on the photosynthesis research to explore the development of self-assembly in biohybrid systems,â Oâ(TM)Neill said. âoeThe neutron studies give us direct evidence that this is occurring.â

two issues... (1)

RighteousRaven (998592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146394)

1) pigs and cows don't produce food, they consume it. You don't need innovation to feed the world - just stop eating meat. You'll also be helping the energy crisis, water crisis, and climate crisis at the same time.
2) THE government? I assume you mean America's government, but even then I'm not sure which one you're referring to... it changes every once in a while you know, as does technology.

More info (5, Informative)

ThreePhones (1878176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145870)

Here's the more detailed press release [ornl.gov] . They're using proteins extracted from spinach and they plan to eventually produce them synthetically. The spinach doesn't directly produce the hydrogen.

Actual info perhaps? (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146046)

Thank you. TFA is one of the most poorly written pieces of drivel I have read in a long time. It barely makes any sense...

The researchers used an innovative technique called “small angle neutron scattering” at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor to produce the hydrogen.

Umm, so this is some kind of nuclear process to produce hydrogen? WTF!?! This is just the worst example from TFA, the whole thing is crappy. Thanks very much for your link, it actually explains what has happened.

Re:Actual info perhaps? (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146526)

Here's the actual news summary:

Scientists glue spinach photosynthesis proteins to a plastic sheet.

I see no indication, apart from journalists' breathless summaries, that hydrogen is actually being produced. The neutron scattering thing is just the technique used to look at the proteins and their attachment to the plastic.

Re:Actual info perhaps? (1)

ThreePhones (1878176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146774)

You're right, they haven't produced hydrogen yet. They make it sound like that step is a piece of cake: "These systems would consist of high surface area, light-collecting panes that use the proteins combined with a catalyst such as platinum to convert the sunlight into hydrogen". I doubt that it's that easy or they would have already done it. Nevertheless, it sounds like a promising area of study, which is of course the whole reason for the press release: Get more money!

Re:Actual info perhaps? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146690)

I'm not sure where you got the quote you posted, but the article I saw said, "Small angle neutron scattering analysis performed at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) showed that the LHC-II, when introduced into a liquid environment that contained polymers, interacted with polymers to form lamellar sheets similar to those found in natural photosynthetic membranes.

Not to produce hydrogen, but to show how it could work.

Re:Actual info perhaps? (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147308)

Yup. That's the from link I thanked ThreePhones for.

I got the quote from the link in the summary. Have a read. [inhabitat.com] It's worth it if you enjoy giving yourself a headache...

I seriously just had to re read it to try and figure out what the hell the author is getting at. I really wonder how anybody found any information in it meaningful enough to submit it to /. in that form. I also wonder how the hell it got past an editor.

Re:More info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148750)

Thank you for that. I thought this was another doomed food->fuel scheme. I have to wonder how efficient this system will be. I'd thought of this back in the early '00's and did some calculating. I'm not sure this will be a better means of achieving the ultimate goal of electricity. The most efficient solar cells are more efficient than photosynthesis. Hydrogen as an energy storage molecule has very low energy density and is difficult to store. And synthetically growing enzymes is generally not very cheap unless you can get commodity-like yields from the bioreactors. I'm skeptical of the technology described.

Stop wasting food (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145926)

They really need to stop wasting time and money researching how to reduce the food supply. It makes a lot more sense to look at potential energy sources that do not reduce the amount of arable land.

Re:Stop wasting food (0)

Exclamation mark! (1961328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145956)

Maybe that is exactly what they should be doing. The key problem is that there are far to many people on this planet. With higher prices this should reduce the population explosion and maybe give us some sort of balance. I reckon getting down to 2-3 billion is enough. No need to kill anyone just fewer children due to high costs.

Re:Stop wasting food (2)

Rylz (868268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145988)

No need to kill anyone just fewer children due to high costs.

Too bad that doesn't actually work in practice. It's lower income communities and countries that have the highest birth rates.

Re:Stop wasting food (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149856)

They're not talking about food this time.

Burning food for fuel is bad juju (0)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35145930)

It is bad enough to have food riots [google.com] for natural reasons... why would you want to take responsibility for helping contribute to food shortages on purpose? Basic R&D is fine, but, for crying out loud, we don't need government subsidies to go into "production" quantities of this stuff, yet.

Sure, we need a replacement for fossil fuels... eventually, I just don't see how skewing food prices now will be a good thing in the long run.

Re:Burning food for fuel is bad juju (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146374)

No one intimates that it will skew food prices. No one's suggesting subsidies. It's research. There is no commodity market for spinach. It doesn't trade on the FOREX, CBoT, etc.

Instead, there's a protein that might seve as a catalyst. We don't know the efficiency. We don't know the cost cycle. We don't have very good hydrogen-based fuel cells for civilians yet. We don't have any business ecosystems for civilian hydrogen distribution system so far.

So, if I may ask, how do you make the leap of logic to food prices at this stage?

Re:Burning food for fuel is bad juju (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146664)

RTFA - it's about using proteins, which happen to be found in spinach, to catalyse solar power reactions that produce Hydrogen, not burning the damn spinach. Yeesh.

Re:Burning food for fuel is bad juju (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148068)

Well, all the spinach you'll be using in hydrogen making will not be used in stomaches of people who are hungry. Whether it's "burnt" or not is a strawman, sorry dude.

The main point is: food is food is food and we shouldn't be using it for anything else. You want unlimited energy? Use solar, wind, waterfalls or geothermal sources. It's been there forever and will be there forever.

How long does it take? (1)

AvderTheTerrible (1960234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146008)

What I want to know is how long it takes a certain amount of plants to churn out a certain amount of hydrogen. If a small enough number of plants could cough up enough hydrogen fast enough, maybe people with their own gardens could one day harness this and self power their cars enough for short, daily driving.

Hydrogen != Green (2)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146026)

Hydrogen's effects on the upper atmosphere is not yet well known but there are indicators that it is bad, very bad. They only reason sheeple are jumping on the hydrogen band wagon is because:

Hydrogen Fuel != Fossil Fuel

Fossil Fuel == Bad

Therefore (they conclude):

Hydrogen == Good

The proponents of Hydrogen Fuel say that the only waste product in the burning of H2 and O2 is H2O but this is NOT true. Because you do not get a 100% efficient burn and because H2 is very leaky stuff even in a fuel cell, the other waste product they fail to mention is the fuel itself. So the question is what happens to H2 and O3 in the upper atmosphere? We were is such a rush to eliminate CFCs (quite heavy molecules in comparison) because of their effects should they reach the ozone. How ironic that so many now turn to H2 as a panacea of clean energy when it can be demonstrated that it affects on ozone and unspent and leaky H2 has no where to go but up. http://eands.caltech.edu/articles/LXVI/H2.html [slashdot.org]

Hydrogen == Greener (1)

RighteousRaven (998592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146310)

The article that you link to doesn't say that hydrogen isn't good or that it isn't green. It simply says that it may not be ideal. IF hydrogen builds up in the atmosphere then there will be some environmental impact, but that is not known. Even if it does build up, there is no analysis of whether that environmental impact is more or less than alternatives.
Green isn't some philosophical ideal - it's a moving target based on what we can achieve.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (3, Interesting)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146396)

Please try zinc instead. Zinc-air technology is amazing. It is the most efficient round trip fuel technology I've seen. If we moved all (or even some) hydrogen research dollars to zinc air, it would win. See for example, this bus: zinc air fuel cell bus [electric-fuel.com] .

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149868)

I read through the web page and I am confused. If this is such a good technology, and it was tested successfully; why was the program/project stopped and set to inactive? Either this is a BS way to get people to link to a site for clicks, or y'all got bad marketing folks. To my eye this project does not need research dollars, it needs VC money to get it in the market place. So which is it, bogus site for clicks and giggles or a legitimate project that is being squashed by "the Man".

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35157256)

It's a legit project. video [youtube.com] . There are several problems with the idea, and that's why it was stopped.

1. It's not efficient. Because of inefficiencies in the air electrode and oxygen evolution electrode, the system is only around 54% efficient round trip. Most battery systems are 70-99% efficient.
2. It requires heavy automation. They had to build a factory to reduce zinc oxide to zinc, and load it in to the cars.
3. It's expensive, because the air electrodes contain a lot of unobtainium.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160086)

How about NiZn batteries, or better, NiLi. Fuel cells suck for a number of reasons.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146850)

Hydrogen that leaks out into the atmosphere will readily combine with available oxygen to form water again. And although water vapor can indeed deplete ozone, it is worth noting that the process of extracting hydrogen from water also produces oxygen as well, which will typically be released back into the atmosphere, some of which in turn would form ozone during thunderstorms, keeping the system quite balanced.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (3, Interesting)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147558)

Lightning from thunderstorms produces ozone in the troposphere. Ozone in the troposphere is a pollutant and causes respiratory ailments in animal life. Moreover, it is too volatile to ever hope to make it 'back home' to the stratosphere. Lightning does not build the ozone layer but rather radiation from space. The problem with H2 is that it does NOT combine with O2 unless burned which it cannot do unless it is in concentrations of >4%. It is, however, reactive with ozone and water in the upper atmosphere is a bad thing.

Part of the reason for the hole in the ozone layer above the poles in the winter and spring is due to the fact that it is, at times, too cold for ozone to form as a stable layer. So a reduction in the temperature of the stratosphere due to water in the upper atmosphere can cause an additional decay. H2 recombining with O3 produces water which lowers the temperature of the upper atmosphere causing further depletion of the ozone. Additionally, oxygen is heavier than nitrogen so the process of 'balancing' the system only serves to deplete the stratosphere of oxygen in all forms.

Nobody, to my knowledge, has even studied the affects of ground sourced H2 and existing monatomic oxygen in the mesosphere. Lastly, leaking and unspent H2 which doesn't react with ozone doesn't 'build up' in the stratosphere but rather it goes into space leaving the 'balance' you mention unanswered and having the effect of stranding the oxygen on the planet. Remember that Oxygen is a pollutant too and at 35% (we are currently at 21%) we get massive fires from a highly combustable atmosphere and huge spiders and frogs.

I accept that Hydrogen power is a better alternative for the time being to that burning fossil fuels at an unsustainable rate. But it is so popular to say that hydrogen is green and the answer to all our problems when there is this caveat and very little has been done to properly research the downside.

PS. I think it would take a long time for us to turn that much water to Oxygen through leaking H2 into space and thereby making massive frogs [wikipedia.org] . Although it might be fun to see!

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148258)

Hydrogen is not and can not be a replacement for fossil fuels, it is simply not a source of energy. It is only a way store energy.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

Peter Mork (951443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149152)

Viewed from that perspective, your only real option is nuclear as a source of energy. Everything else just moves energy from one form to another whereas fission and fusion convert mass into energy. (Even solar energy is ultimately nuclear, no?)

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160102)

And a very inefficient one, at that. At least in general.

Re:Hydrogen != Green (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146914)

Because you do not get a 100% efficient burn and because H2 is very leaky stuff even in a fuel cell, the other waste product they fail to mention is the fuel itself.

The other waste product is the fuel itself? Isn't the fuel hydrogen too?

Anorexic summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146064)

Damnit, is it too much to ask to actually put some details into the summary. At least a third of the comments here are "OMFG, why are we destroying our food supply for fuel!!!" which is a complete misconception. For Christ's sake, the summary is two lines long and one of them is a joke.

That is all.

They should try Korean Kimchi (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146082)

Kimchi is food of the gods. It's fermented cabbage spiced with garlic and chilies. When you order Bul Go Gi (marinated barbecued beef) in a Korean restaurant, they bring you 10,000 little cups with all sorts of cold, pickled roots and vegetables. Kimchi is our favorite, and when the waiter tells us, "be careful, it is very hot spicy!" we have already started devouring the stuff. After the meal, they give you something called soju, which is a kind of rice vodka. The result is that after the meal, with the hot spicy vegetables, and alcohol, you have the feeling that your breath can melt car paint.

Now back to the fuel topic . . . the day after, I always feel like I am farting fire. I always expect Greenpeace to show up in rubber rafts at the door, and complain about me polluting the environment. Kimchi seems to me to be an excellent source for an alternative flatulence energy source. Forget about lighting your farts; after an evening of Kimchi, they self-ignite.

If my manager ever asks, "We need someone to fly to Korea for a week," I will do cartwheels and scream, "Me, me, ME!" And then I would eat Kimchi for breakfast lunch and dinner. Um, I'm not sure, did I get the point across that I love Korean food?

Now, if this Kimchi generated fuel would scale up to practical, economic level . . . ?

Re:They should try Korean Kimchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148014)

Kim Chi is the process not the individual vegetable and you can kim chi most anything, though typically once you get outside of veggies other names will be used.

Soju is a vodka made from sweet potatoes or tapioca nowadays (rice and other grains is a very small percentage of the market for soju, given that it only became legal to use rice again around 2000), and commonly goosed with artificial sweeteners.

And bulgogi is the lower end meat frequently marinated beyond recognition to the tastebuds, go for the galbi. Ideally the style where a large bone has the meat cut from it, and LA galbi (cheap man's galbi). If you can find a restaurant that brings coals to the table instead of using propane/natural gas, so much the better.

Re:They should try Korean Kimchi (1)

SylvanCyke (1375051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35148296)

The massive advantage to using Kimchi as a fuel source is that only the most badass customer would toy with the idea of eating your fuel.

bah (2)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146304)

The efficiency of photosynthetic proteins is terrible compared to inorganic photocatalysts. The only advantage biological systems have is that the only reasonable room temperature catalyst for photoconversion of carbon dioxide in air is biological. If you only want to make hydrogen, commercial systems already beat the theoretical highest possible efficiency of biology.

Other veggie-energy possibilities (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146342)

Beans could be used for methane fuel.

This just in... (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146386)

Spinach prices skyrocket. Children worldwide rejoice.

Fuel from plant is probably a lost cause (2)

2Bits (167227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146538)

I know people are working hard to try to find an alternative to fossil fuel, but I believe using plant as an alternative is probably a lost cause. Whether you try to create methanol from plant (or food) or as the article suggests, use the spinach protein to extract hydrogen from water, is not very efficient way to create fuel. Sure, plants are "renewable", but at what cost? The gain in fuel is not enough to offset the cost, not only the economic cost of producing the fuel, but the environment, societal cost too. You may argue that we simply haven't found an efficient way to do it, that's all, but we eventually will. However, the cost to environment and the ripple that it creates through societies (e.g. rise of food prices) will always be there. Unless, of course, we could harvest plants/food massively, at very low cost, and without effect to the planet. That is a tall order, by itself.

I believe there are better ways, which we already know now, and which have lower long term cost. Nonetheless, the research project mentioned in TFA is still very cool.

Re:Fuel from plant is probably a lost cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148180)

What they should do is take tons and tons and tons of plant matter and bury it and compress it for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. Then they should dig it up and use the coal it turned into as a fuel source. We can all ride steam powered busses!

Or better yet, tell Japan to bury the tons and tons and tons of seafood waste they have there, and compress it. In fact, they should stop eating seaweed all together and bury and compress it. Then after hundreds of thousands, even millions of years they should drill into it and siphon up the crude oil they find and use it as a fuel source. Then we can all drive internal combustion powered automobiles!

Seems to me we are all ready using food as a fuel source.

Re:Fuel from plant is probably a lost cause (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149154)

I know people are working hard to try to find an alternative to fossil fuel, but I believe using plant as an alternative is probably a lost cause.

It's called algae. They grow in dirty water or seawater and we have lots of both. HTH.

Unless, of course, we could harvest plants/food massively, at very low cost, and without effect to the planet. That is a tall order, by itself.

That's called algae, too. It makes a pretty foul food but fine fuel.

Re:Fuel from plant is probably a lost cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35150174)

i don't think you completely comprehended the article
they are using part of the Spinach planet as a CATALYST in order to create hydrogen using sunlight and water.
you don't need tons and tons of spinach to produce some hydrogen. a catalyst isn't used up in the reaction. only water and sunlight.
there will be NO effects on food prices.

as for the rest. you're quite out of date and way off. using food to create energy is always a bad idea. but that was NEVER the idea of biofuel. it was a intermediate step on the way to creating fuel from plant WASTE material (which could potentially make food prices LOWER as farmers can get paid for both the food and the waste.
unfortunately the technology isn't quite ready for commercial scale yet (some projects are close thou) but the corn lobby made the US use ethanol based on food, thereby giving biofuel in general a bad name. which is really unfortunate as it has a lot of potential as part of the solution.

Re:Fuel from plant is probably a lost cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35152806)

Exactly... we want to desperately cling to our oil-based society. Human folly at it's greatest.

Soylent Green (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35146874)

Anyone else read that as *Spanish*?

I wondered if it was some attempt to improve the country's finances and reduce unemployment at the same time.

Of course if you wanted to drive anywhere between noon and 4 p.m. you'd be SOL...

Re:Soylent Green (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35147290)

I did, and was disappointed that English as a second language would not be finding a new home in Spain. This research will probably do nothing but drive up the price of an excellent veggie; which in combo with pink salmon beats almost any weight loss diet ever devised. Reminds me of the 1950s when rumors that smoking cat nip would make you high or adding a couple of aspirin to a famous soft drink would get a clear rush. U.S. shelves were cleared of cat nip in about two days and who knows what the story did for the pop and pain people. Now this type of stuff goes on about multiple products daily. Each mention of research like this, or even a "news" article based on a rumor , can be worth millions to somebody and the information system is being played like never before..

Re:Soylent Green (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147516)

How on earth will this research increase the price of a veggie?

Re:Soylent Green (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149424)

How on earth will this research increase the price of a veggie?

In other words, what the hell has that got to do with the price of beans [urbandictionary.com] ?

what do you mean (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147374)

IF Popeye had made alternative fuels? ONRL is simply replicating what you get when Popeye takes a dump.

s/Popeye/Chuck Norris/g

Blood for spinach (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 3 years ago | (#35147500)

Are we going to send our finest young men and women to conquer the spinach producing countries now?

No need to worry (1)

voss (52565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149328)

The US is the number 2 spinach producing country in the world and the largest exporter. China produces 85% of the worlds spinach so they will probably benefit more from this technology than we will.

Bad Summary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35148238)

"converts solar energy directly into hydrogen"

It converts the energy from electromagnetic waves into a proton and an electron? I'd be impressed.

Without reading TFA, I'm pretty sure it simply splits water.

What next? (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149128)

Fuel from Olive Oyl?

This is nothing like ethanol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35149632)

Is it really scientifically valid to say "ethanol does not really work, therefore nothing that involves using plants can ever work?"

Or, would it make more sense to evaluate this, entirely different, technology on it's own merits?

I am not saying this is a promising technology, but I don't know if it should be dismissed, by people who clearly do not understand it, just because of such a sweeping generalisation?

Just tried this (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35150004)

My car was nearing empty so I put some spinach in my tank. The tires bulged up a lot and got some sort of battleship design on them. Then my car took off (luckily, I was able to jump inside) and I made my 30 minute morning commute in just 3 minutes. Of course, it was knocking cars off the road right and left. And I'm not sure how a corncob pipe got stuck in my car's grill.

how about driving less? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154100)

Why should everyone deal with higher food prices especially healthy foods we shouldn't discourage people from eating? Fuck the lazy and make them drive less and build up superior public transportation. It's not like the whole world has too much food and we'd only be converting waste.

You simply don't need to drive your big ass SUV down the road to the shop. When the petrol runs out then tough luck. Walk more fatties.

Food Riots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35161170)

Since people have/are/will riot in some countries over a lack of food does it make any sense to devote arable land to producing fuel for vehicles?

Riddle me this regarding "fossil" fuels......how come you find them thousands of feet UNDER the sea floor? Seems like much of the "fossil" fuels are be produced abiotically. If so, then exploration and extraction will always trump converting useful farmland for biodiesel since the farmland is dwindling compared to population growth.

I won't even get into the debate about how to solve the population crunch, peak oil (and if it is just lack of technical capability, artificial scarcity, etc), or how to sequester the carbon (or even if that is necessary).

I'm just saying arable land is more precious for feeding hungry people than it is for quenching thirsty cars.

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