×

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!

Alloy Could Produce Hydrogen Fuel Using Sunlight

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the panacea-for-the-zeppelin-industry dept.

Power 360

intellitech writes "Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, a University of Kentucky-University of Louisville team demonstrated that an alloy formed by a 2 percent substitution of antimony (Sb) in gallium nitride (GaN) has the right electrical properties to enable solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. When the alloy is immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, the chemical bond between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water is broken (abstract). Because pure hydrogen gas is not found in free abundance on Earth, it must be manufactured by unlocking it from other compounds. Thus, hydrogen is not considered an energy source, but rather an 'energy carrier.' Currently, it takes a large amount of electricity to generate hydrogen by water splitting. As a consequence, most of the hydrogen manufactured today is derived from non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. The team says the GaN-Sb alloy has the potential to convert solar energy into an economical, carbon-free source for hydrogen."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

360 comments

So, no current needed? (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261572)

Is this a superior alternative to the work that Dan Nocera's been doing at MIT with catalysts to make electrolysis take less energy?

-jcr

Re:So, no current needed? (2, Interesting)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261642)

Maybe they can combine it? I don't know, I'm not a chemist and I haven't read the abstract, but it would be interesting.

Re:So, no current needed? (3, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261702)

Having solar panels on your roof that can power your stuff -and- refuel your car is a better investment than a solar plant for each.

Re:So, no current needed? (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261922)

Why, particularly? I would guess that which one would be "better" would be a calculation that combines ease of access, cost, aesthetics, and ROI. Often, operations done at large scale can be done more efficiently than in a distributed fashion. Other times, the cost of distribution can offset this interent efficiency.

We don't yet know which one is "better" - the market is still merging.

One area that I'd personally love to see more solar panels is over parking lots. Nothing quite beats the misery of walking out of a nice, 75 degree mall into the blistering, 100-degree heat in the summer time, only to sit down in your 160 degree car, cursing and swearing at all that damned free energy the sun packed into your car.

But cover that parking lot with a lattice of solar panels so I'm getting into a merely hot 95 degree car while all that energy is used to power the A/C at the mall I just got out of, that would be swell.

Re:So, no current needed? (3, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262022)

Nothing quite beats the misery of walking out of a nice, 23 degree mall into the blistering, 37 degree heat in the summer time, only to sit down in your 71 degree car, cursing and swearing at all that damned free energy the sun packed into your car.

Fixed that for you. Now stop using those damn Fred Flintstone units!

Re:So, no current needed? (0, Troll)

priceslasher (2102064) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262064)

Farenheit has higher resolution units.

Re:So, no current needed? (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262160)

Most thermometers cannot even measure the (absolute) temperature to within one K/degree C without careful calibration. So that is kinda moot :)

Re:So, no current needed? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262236)

Measuring in bits is higher resolution than bytes, kilobytes, etc, but that's no reason to do it in general usage. Arguing about which arbitrary units of measurement are better is as bad as arguing which side of the road is the correct one, or thinking that some highly paid sports team full of non-locals has anything to do with the locals.

Re:So, no current needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262032)

People's rooftops could be used as well. I heard of a program somewhere where they pay you a monthly rate to put energy back into the grid from solar panels placed on your roof. Requires a capital investment, though, which you earn back over the years (20 years IIRC). So unfortunately longer than the majority of people stay in one house.

Re:So, no current needed? (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262304)

People's rooftops could be used as well. I heard of a program somewhere where they pay you a monthly rate to put energy back into the grid from solar panels placed on your roof. Requires a capital investment, though, which you earn back over the years (20 years IIRC). So unfortunately longer than the majority of people stay in one house.

There are companies here in the UK that do that (essentially you are renting your roof area to someone for them to put their panels on, and in payment they give you a cut of the money they make). It seems like a good idea to me because most individuals can't afford a long term investment like PV (which costs thousands of pounds and takes 10-20 years to break even). Unfortunately I've also heard that this is incompatible with most mortgages, so until those kind of problems can be fixed it isn't going to be very wide-spread. Here's an idea - how about the mortgage lender offering to shove PV panels on your roof as part-payment for your mortgage?

Re:So, no current needed? (2)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261934)

I'm too lazy to install VPN software to get article access from my couch, but the abstract only discusses the 2.0 eV absorption, which is about 620 nm. That is certainly one of the wavelengths of interest, being near the solar spectrum max irradiance, but if the catalyst doesn't absorb at any other wavelengths, it'll not be of much use at all. The other thing to consider, of course, is that Nocera's catalysts are already made and just being industrialized, while the controlled doping of this particular Sb-doped GaN catalyst may or may not have already been studied - I'm guessing it hasn't, or they would have collaborated with a synthetic chemist to produce physical data.

Material-wise, Nocera's catalyst is cobalt, nickel, and. . . something, I forget. GaN isn't really going to save much, if anything, over Nocera's.

So, in short, uh, I dunno. I still think Nocera's has a lot of promise, though.

Re:So, no current needed? (1)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262080)

The alloy functions as a catalyst in the PEC reaction, meaning that it is not consumed and may be reused indefinitely. University of Louisville and University of Kentucky researchers are currently working toward producing the alloy and testing its ability to convert solar energy to hydrogen.

FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261576)

Hopefully it won't be used to remake dihydrogen monoxide later. That stuff is lethal.

Eat shit hippies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261584)

I will burn a tire for every kilowatt hour this saves. Fuck you and the planet.
Oh, and fuck you Soulskill, you will never be CmdrTaco.

You know, I think I speak for many people when.. (0)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261602)

You know, I think I speak for many people when I say this, but if you don't have anything nice to say, then shut the fuck up.

Re:You know, I think I speak for many people when. (1)

MichaelKristopeit501 (2018074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261706)

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

why do you cower behind a chosen electronic based pseudonym, feeb?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:You know, I think I speak for many people when. (0)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261728)

Wow, the way you wrangled that old wisdom about being nice into a wording that is anything but is almost artful

Containment (2)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261586)

Is there a cheap way to contain hydrogen yet?

Re:Containment (1)

jfmiller (119037) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261698)

Yes, take 3 hydrogen atoms and bond them to a carbon atom. Better yet take 8 and bond them to a string of 3 carbon atoms. There are extensive networks to transport both these substances.

Re:Containment (5, Funny)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261836)

>Yes, take 3 hydrogen atoms and bond them to a carbon atom

Wanted: monovalent to occupy vacant orbital. It's a quad, but the other three spots are spoken for. If you are an H, we'll be an alkane. If you're a hydroxyl, we'll be an alcohol.

Re:Containment (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261974)

Yes, take 3 hydrogen atoms and bond them to a carbon atom.

This is an intriguing idea. I wonder what kind of energy it would take to turn CO2+H2 into octane + however much O2 you have left over... Perfectly clean hydrocarbon fuels forever!

-jcr

Re:Containment (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262060)

Not much at all. Solar hydrocarbon [technologyreview.com] . If you look at the reaction data, you'll find that the reaction H2+CO2 -> H2O+CO will occur with mild heating (from a solar concentrator). Once you get a mixture of H2 + CO, you have syngas, and from there you can make just about anything.

Re:Containment (4, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262082)

Exactly as much energy as you get back by complete combustion of the octane, divided by the efficiency of the conversion. See 'Fischer-Tropsch' process.

This is basically what you do if you want oil and you don't want go to Mother Nature's Giant One-Time Only Sale (All coal and oil accumulated over the last 500000000 years is old inventory and must go now! This is a one-time offer, bound to end within 200 years of starting! Don't miss out! Extra discounts available for first 50% of supply, for details please inquire within. No warranty is implied; Buyer takes full responsibility for any mass extinctions, polar meltdowns, or disastrous climactic shifts resulting from use of product. No returns accepted, all sales are final.).

Re:Containment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261704)

If you mix it with oxygen you can use any container.

Re:Containment (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261708)

No, hydrogen is still a bad investment.

Re:Containment (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261904)

Heh. There's an entirely different truth in this statement.

If this truly works, and the ability to produce hydrogen is, cost-wise, limited to the initial purchase cost of the equipment, the roof space, and the water bill, I wouldn't be surprised if some very, very powerful and rich companies that are currently making the bulk of their money by pulling hydrocarbons out of the ground work as hard as they can to purchase and/or stomp in to the ground a technology potentially this revolutionary.

Remember, fossil fuels are cheap because we don't hold extractors to the true cost of extracting, refining, distributing, and using fossil fuels. The subsidies are massive. Additionally, with a large-scale existing distribution and infrastructure system for fossil fuels, it's difficult to overcome the inertia to get a new distribution system for a new fuel in place.

If this truly works, this suddenly becomes easier than biodiesel, in that once the equipment is installed and properly set up, one just pumps water into it. Of course, one needs a hydrogen-powered car, which currently are not in any sort of production beyond prototypes and limited beta testing.

It's likely I have the roof space on my house to generate all of the hydrogen I'd need for all of my vehicles. Depending on the efficiency of the panels, possibly for my whole house. Arguably, this could be a lot more efficient, per square foot, than photovoltaic. If it were more efficient to generate hydrogen to then put through a generator that runs on hydrogen, we might see energy independence for individual structures, not just for cars.

If it really works, and if the powers who have a lot to lose don't manage to kill it off.

Paranoid and unfounded (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261940)

It's likely I have the roof space on my house to generate all of the hydrogen I'd need for all of my vehicles.

I'll just pick on this one point. This is in fact very unlikely, and very very unlucky for a large majority of people.

You claim the oil companies will kill this but you totally misunderstand them. They will be more than happy to refine hydrogen on a massive scale and bring it to stations just like today for the many, many people who cannot or will not put all this equipment together. They don't care if it's cheap because they will still make some profit on it.

Hydrogen cars are the future exactly because the well-funded oil companies want to see the next ethnology to win use some kind of fueling infrastructure. Which is fine by me, since I like range and you can really only get that from a system that's much quicker to refuel than just electricity.

Re:Paranoid and unfounded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262204)

For a simple house 50' L with a roof 20' up each side, or 40' combined W you'll have effective dimension of 600"Lx480"W. BP 280W panels are 79"x40" so 6x15 of them will fit. They won't put out 280W like that but 90 panels might be expeted to produce 20kw/hr ($65,000 just the panels) when the sun is directly overhead. That's a respectable amount of power from plain solar panels not some kind of pie in the sky... If solar panels were the norm then they might become half as expensive, but batteries, charging systems, and installation won't be.

Re:Containment (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261710)

Who cares, 'burn' it right there and use the energy to pump water uphill.

If it works, which I doubt.

Re:Containment (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261762)

Energy stored as the potential energy against gravity of large volumes of water is not the most convenient of automotive fuels.

Re:Containment (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261838)

You're right, but for the wrong reasons. I could substitute "gasoline" for "water" in what you said and it would sound equally plausible.

If I'm understanding you correctly. I'm not sure I am, I'm still parsing and reparsing what you said.

Regardless, to the GP: don't use the power generated by combusting the hydrogen to pump the water uphill. Let electrolysis form gas which will naturally want to rise to the top of the hill, and burn it there to turn it back into water.

Re:Containment (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262152)

The energy released by burning hydrogen is sufficient to raise the resulting water to an altitude of more than 1600KM. Or, burning two grams of hydrogen is enough to raise 3 liters of water to the top of Mt. Everest.

Re:Containment (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262040)

...use the energy to pump water uphill

Seems kinda silly since nature already does that for us.. I would say just burn it to hear the cool sound it makes

Re:Containment (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262102)

Who cares, 'burn' it right there and use the energy to pump water uphill.

If it works, which I doubt.

My car won't run on uphill water.

Re:Containment (1)

josteos (455905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261880)

I recommend a dirigible.

Re:Containment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261910)

Nice. I was gonna say balloon, but I had to clean up after my massive ejaculation onto a Steve Jobs flavored yak towel.

Access to energy is social justice (3, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261598)

Do you care about your fellow man who was born with less privilege than you? Then work hard to make stories like this into a reality so that every poor family can have the access to cheap energy to heat their homes and to power the car in their driveway.

That's a better story than lowering the standard of living for everyone. I'd rather use technology to raise everyone up, even if it is only to the modest levels that you and I take for granted.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261692)

No, They care only about themselves and acquiring as much as possible, fuck the planet, fuck everyone else. When the shit hits the fan in a few year, Those Type "A", sociopath fuckers will be wiped from the planet in a hail of lead and fire.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262266)

, Those Type "A", sociopath fuckers will be wiped from the planet in a hail of lead and fire.

You sure are delusional.

History has shown that those sociopathic fuckers and their armies[1] are the ones who will be doing the wiping out.

[1] The majority of people follow orders and/or do whatever everyone else around them is doing. Good pawns for the sociopathic leaders.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261736)

You could look at it that way. You could also look at it that cheap energy will make everyone's life better off, including the poor.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261752)

Obligatory XK.. SMBC

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2305#comic

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261778)

Access to energy is social justice

So, it's unjust that I pay for the energy I use now, and pay taxes to subsidize some of what it takes to develope, transport, and secure it?

What you're saying is that I'm not being treated fairly because I have to pay? Or are you saying that people who don't pay for the energy they use are being treated unjustly? Or is it the people who don't pay for the energy they don't use? This whole justice thing is confusing. Here, let me look that up...

Hmmm. No. I couldn't find a definition of "justice" that means "entitled to stuff."

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261822)

Wow, let me bask in the glow of your self entitlement.

Social justice means recognizing that all men were not born with equal opportunity. It's a notion which conservatives tend to ignore, but the reality is that a person growing up poor, black and let's say blind is not going to have the same road to prosperity that somebody that's born black and sighted or black, sighted and rich wil.

Social justice recognizes that anybody can fall on hard times, no matter how careful they are, and that there's dignity in all humans.

Just because you're lucky enough not to have to worry about such things does not mean that you have any more right to them than anybody else does. I've seen the folks that work janitorial and in kitchens and chances are good that they work harder than you do for less.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261858)

Wow, let me bask in the glow of your self entitlement

No, what you're saying is that I'm not entitled to things I do myself, but other people are entitled to what I do.

Just because you're lucky enough not to have to worry about such things does not mean that you have any more right to them than anybody else does

Who says I don't worry about suddenly becoming blind, or poor, or injured and unable to work? Other than you, I mean, since you know.

I've seen the folks that work janitorial and in kitchens and chances are good that they work harder than you do for less.

Really? I work about 90 hours a week, and haven't had a single week actually "off" in about ten years. Nobody paid my way through college - I didn't get to go, because I had to work. Hey, look! Horrible injustice - somebody else got something I didn't get! I better start whining, and asking for justice!

You want justice? Take kids away from crappy parents, since parents committed to raising witless, uneducated kids are the only reason that some people don't have as much stuff as other people. Well, that and the fact that entire sub-cultures are basically lazy, and actually resent the people who do the work.

Regardless, what you're saying is that because I work, I'm not entitled to things, and because other people can't or don't, they are entitled to having me work for them. What you're calling for is charity, but what you want is central power over productivity so that you can distribute its output as you see justly fit. After you take you administrative costs out for yourself, of course, right? I mean, somebody has to run the Stuff Justice Reallocation Department, so it might as well be you, of course.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (5, Funny)

indeterminator (1829904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262336)

Really? I work about 90 hours a week, and haven't had a single week actually "off" in about ten years.

Selfish bastard. You could share some of that work, there's enough to do for two or three people there.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261932)

Social justice means recognizing that all men were not born with equal opportunity. It's a notion which conservatives tend to ignore ...

That is not a factual statement. Conservatives actually differ from liberals only in how best to assist the less fortunate. There is a false perception that they care less because they are less tolerant of ideas that feel good or feel right but actually accomplish little. So when they oppose an idea that has the best of intentions, not because they disagree with the goal but because they think the idea is flawed, they "look bad". This gets amplified by a media that is generally in the feels good / feels right camp.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262112)

"So when they oppose an idea that has the best of intentions, not because they disagree with the goal but because they think the idea is flawed"

Some. Others believe ideas to be flawed because it is convenient to do so. There is a fair portion of blinkered immorality on both sides. The left have the hippie "do-gooders" who just want to feel good themselves and actually cause harm and the right have the selfish who hide behind misrepresented and misapplied economics so they don't have to give anything up.

They both also have the fascists who want to force their ideology upon others.

The rest of us are flawed in our own ways.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (3)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262308)

Conservatives actually differ from liberals only in how best to assist the less fortunate. There is a false perception that they care less because they are less tolerant of ideas that feel good or feel right but actually accomplish little.

Like the idea that if we cut taxes on billionaires even more, jobs will follow? Conservatives seem pretty "tolerant" of that bit of magical thinking.

So when they oppose an idea that has the best of intentions, not because they disagree with the goal but because they think the idea is flawed, they "look bad".

No. They look bad because their policies fail, over and over again, to the point where any reasonable person might start to suspect that "assist[ing] the less fortunate" is not actually on the conservative agenda. To be fair, it depends on how you define failure: if your goal is a nation full of desperate peasants who will work themselves to death for scraps from the nobility's table, conservative policies are a resounding success.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261996)

Social justice means recognizing that all men were not born with equal opportunity.

Nope, "social justice" is a propaganda term used to rationalize looting. Justice, or the lack thereof, only pertains to an individual, not to whatever categories you seek to divide people into.

-jcr

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261780)

every poor family can have the access to cheap energy to heat their homes and to power the car

You have no idea what poverty is. Their car? This is why the charitable efforts of Westerners always fail. You simply do not understand what you are talking about. Real poor people don't have a car. They are lucky to have a bicycle or shoes. Now if you consider a person poor because he has a car older than 6 years or does not have a Mercedes, then yeah ok... But understand that there are still a lot of people on the planet who ride in other people's vehicles.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261828)

Believe it or not, a car is a necessity in much of the US if you want to have a job. And you can thank the people that fight against the taxes necessary to properly fund mass transit for that. We've got a good system in general around here, but there are times during the week when one can't find a bus anywhere.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261962)

Its not only that, we have a culture that considers people who dont drive, and opt to walk or bike to work, as somehow "defective" and thus their lives are worth very little. Its not just that there isnt any pedestrian infrastructure in large parts of the country, its that people are actively hostile towards pedestrians. I used to live in the states and I cant tell you how many people slowed down just to mock me or even throw shit at me as I walked to work.

Greatest day of my life was when I left that Republican infested hell-hole. Not planning to go back if I can avoid it.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262138)

" I used to live in the states and I cant tell you how many people slowed down just to mock me or even throw shit at me as I walked to work."

Sounds you lived in a shitty part of the US. Let me guess ... was it Texas, or maybe some place in the southeast,
south of the Mason-Dixon Line ?

The entire US is not comprised of ignorant rednecks who demean pedestrians. I have lived in the US for
probably longer than you have existed, and I can guarantee you that there are nice places where the worst
you would get as a pedestrian is an offer of a ride. Next time, pick where you live more carefully and your experience
can and will be more pleasant. However, just as in any country in the world, if you choose poorly you will experience
unpleasantness.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262324)

The entire US is not comprised of ignorant rednecks who demean pedestrians.

Is La Jolla, California full of “ignorant rednecks”?

Twenty years ago, I attended a conference in La Jolla. During some free-time, I decided to take a walk. My experience matches that of the GP: I was ridiculed and jeered at by the passing motorists.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262328)

I lived in western PA, it wasnt my choice as I was born there :P. Actually we had a pretty decent public school system(better than a lot of those vaunted systems I hear about overseas), but the Republicans are doing their damndest to try to dismantle it as part of their War on Knowledge.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261964)

Believe it or not, a car is a necessity in much of the US if you want to have a job.

Most real poor people are not in the US. Try harder.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262058)

Debt is not wealth.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262322)

So what?

  The average jobless American is not poor, they are abundantly wealthy. Did their child starve to death today due to them not having any food to feed to it? How many miles did they walk today to collect drinking water for their family?

Oh, and on the other part - I don't have a license let alone a car and yet I have a job in the US. And no I do not live or work in NYC (left there years ago).

Dirty Hippie (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261928)

Yea, you got it, but look - if I have to pay another $0.1 per litre for this to work, then get lost. I like my standing in the world, and I don't want everybody else to enjoy anything even close to it.

So stick your solar utopian dream into your next bowl and puff away. If we wanted to help the world, why would we behave like we do?

Big Oily Brother protects our superiority.

Re:Dirty Hippie (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262104)

I think most of us would be willing to pay an extra $0.1 per litre, or even significantly more than that, if it meant lifting the world out of poverty. A lot of us do pay money to help people out. But it's hard to trust that the money would go to fund another war, or oil company tax-breaks, or another bailout. If that's the case, might as well keep the money in my own wallet, you know?

Social justice must come from economic models (1)

rawler (1005089) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262044)

In the free market, the customer-base with the most money usually rule. Technological developments are usually targeted and priced for the wealthy, simply because there aren't much money in poor people.

Only after saturating the upper- and middle-class markets, there might be leftover-scrapes for the lower-class, either by lowering the price closer to manufacturing costs, or simply through resale of used devices. At that point though, the upper- and middle-classes are on the next cool thing, while the lower-class is left with 5-years-old technology.

The reality is sad.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262052)

... every poor family can ... power the car in their driveway.

Which part of "poor" didn't you get?

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262180)

Well, that's the start of a nice thought, but what are you going to do about population control?

I'm not being glib, so please don't dodge this one. It's the core problem that every welfare / share-the-wealth / free-power panacea fails at.

I haven't got a suggestion either. I'm nearly 50, and thanks to SF and living in a slightly socialist country, I've been thinking about how we Could and Should take care of each other for a very long time. It always falls apart with the breeding problem. People as a whole aren't anywhere near willing to /start/ thinking about that yet. Working on free-power is completely pointless until we do.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262224)

It seems to me that energy is too important to be left to private enterprise. Let the people control the energy.

Billing (read: taxation) based upon energy usage would be about the fairest tax imaginable.

Re:Access to energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262374)

If you own a car, you're not Poor. You may be low-income, or below the "poverty line", and if it's a problem then sell the thing which you are dumping piles of cash into and ride a bike or walk. Like I did when I was living on a $250 a month income with no assistance. I didn't piss and moan about other people having more than me, or the cost of energy. Instead, I quit spending money on all the pointless shit and busted MY ass instead of expecting the middle-class to bust THEIR asses on my behalf.
I worked a crappy job at a gas station part time. Plenty of "poor" people came in... and I watched them piss away their food stamps on soda, chips, and assorted snack food. Even the ones buying "groceries" were being morons- we sold almost everything for around 25% more than the grocery store three blocks away.

I'd rather use technology to raise everyone up, even if it is only to the modest levels that you and I take for granted.

The "poor" in America enjoy a modest level of living which is considered "middle class" in many parts of the world. Even people who literally live on the streets in America have better access to clean water, clean streets, medical treatment, and justice than most people on the planet in other areas. As long as your BASIC essential needs (food, water, shelter, medicine, rule of law) are being met, everything else really IS "luxury" of sorts.

No meter means no development (2)

gottspeed (2060872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261600)

"But will never be made commercially available because it would result in a breakdown of the energy cartel's strangle-hold on the world's economy."

Re:No meter means no development (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262108)

"Conspiracy theories appeal to those who are more familiar with how Hollywood works than with the real world." Amazing what quotation marks can do.

Another Great Sounding Premise (1)

bennyp (809286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261618)

I would love to see a round up of all the great world saving ideas that have been invented/discovered and posted about on slashdot over the years. It seems like every year someone else comes up with a method to generate hydrogen for free or to cure cancer with OTC meds or to revolutionize batteries so we can finally have pocket blowdryers, etc. How many of these are going anywhere years later?

Re:Another Great Sounding Premise (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261694)

How many of these are going anywhere years later?

Most aren't. Some are. That's pretty much the way R&D works: most projects fail, but the ones that succeed change our lives, generally for the better. If you're not interested in hearing about the early stages, when success or failure is impossible to predict, that's fine; no one's making you read those stories.

Great... now drink or drive takes on a new meaning (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261622)

Imagine you're stuck in the desert with a bottle of water... you have to take a pick whether you drink your water or pour it in your car

Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261684)

Imagine you're stuck in the desert with a bottle of water... you have to take a pick whether you drink your water or pour it in your car

Is that a real question? Of course you pick the car. It provides mobile shade in which to search for more water.

Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261714)

Imagine you're stuck in the desert with a bottle of water... you have to take a pick whether you drink your water or pour it in your car

Easy answer really. Drink your water and pee on your car.

Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261936)

i know this was intended as a joke...but did you know that it is not out of the ordinary to sweat out almost all of what you drink in the desert due to the lack of humidity 'wetting' your skin? There has been times where I've drank 9L of water and only taken one piss all day.

Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262244)

Even easier - the output of a hydrogen fuel cell is pure water. Rather than risk foulling the catalyst, put the water in the car, and drink it after driving closer to civilization.

Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261988)

If I'm stuck in the desert with a bottle of water, then my car isn't there!

Redundant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261646)

So, is this any better than just electrolyzing water using current from a solar cell?

awful amount of could in the article.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261654)

"Novel Alloy Could Produce Hydrogen Fuel from Sunlight"
"University of Louisville and University of Kentucky researchers are currently working toward producing the alloy and testing its ability to convert solar energy to hydrogen"
"The researchers say their findings are a triumph for computational sciences, one that could potentially have profound implications for the future of solar energy."
"The GaN-Sb alloy is the first simple, easy-to-produce material to be considered a candidate for PEC water splitting." so eh, can it do it or not? I don't care if they consider something as a candidate. so repost when they can make and test it, so far all they've done is computed that it could do it(and whoever wrote the article should have placed even more emphasis on that and he should've skipped the lecture about how hydrogen is considered an energy carrier and how current cheap methods involve co2, that stuff is not news, info about why they can't make the material overnight in a foundry would have been interesting though)..

oh and if you read the article see the related stories next to it, same type could stories.

Re:awful amount of could in the article.. (5, Informative)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261770)

ChE here. I read the article (hooray for university journal access), and I know exactly why there's so much hedging: this is a purely computational, DFT paper, with no experimental results to back it up. In the academic world this is not particularly uncommon, and DFT studies are an amazingly powerful tool to identify (potentially) optimal material combinations that would take researchers centuries to discover by systematic experimentation. But that's just it: "potentially". DFT often (necessarily) overlooks potential external effects that only occur in real systems. Somebody higher up really jumped the gun by making a full press release on a typical journal article in the photocatalysis field.

Re:awful amount of could in the article.. (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261812)

Also, I know of many photocatalysts that conduct water splitting, though many require a light sensitizer (way too complex to explain when I'm this tired) or a separate semiconductor with an appropriate band gap. The only thing that's potentially exciting for the photocatalysis guys I know is that the doped semiconductor could serve as a complete system that could beat other complete systems (like titania)...but only experimentation will say for sure.

Only 1/2 the problem (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261862)

Of course the efficiency of the photocatalyst in using electromagnetic radiation to perform electrolysis is only 1/2 of the problem.

The other problem is how to prevent corrosion of the catalytic surface that allows the catalyst to work long enough so that it can be used in a practical system. The DOE is basically funding research in this area and their goal for a practical material is 10,000 hours (a little over a year). Right now the best stuff is only about 5% of this goal. As a comparison, the platinum catalyst in a typical car's catalytic converter can last 5-10 years.

I think many folks are hopeful that computational exploration can help to determine how and why certain configurations degrade and suggest improvements that will allow better designs that have reasonably efficiency and resist corrosion, but today that is still hopeful thinking...

Re:awful amount of could in the article.. (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261976)

Well, the other part that's exciting is that GaN is a heavily-studied semiconductor, so hopefully achieving the desired 2% Sb doping won't be difficult. But you're right, theoretical papers like this are a dime a dozen.

Not the answer... (2, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261674)

I know we're supposed to love all technological solutions for our energy problems, but I'm just not convinced anymore.

When I look at how badly most things are managed, at the ignorance and greed that rule the world, I'm quite convinced that properly implementing what we already know could solve more problems than inventing further methods and discovering new things. In everything from energy policy to urban planning to human health we could achieve an almost paradisaical state if we just chose to do those things correctly that we already know how to do correctly and assisted the entire human race in doing the same.

I'm not advocating cultural imperialism here, I'm just there's plenty of universal ground on which to share with any persons or cultures easily implemented, universally agreeable methods.

Which is more likely? (2)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261882)

People deciding to be calm and logical and sacrificing for the good of humanity as a whole? (The opposite of the ignorance and greed and fear we see all around us.) Or some guy in a lab coat eventually inventing a quick technical fix?

Personally I think cold fusion (or a similarly improbable technological breakthrough like the sunlight->metal->hydrogen described in this article based solely on computer simulation) is by far the more likely of the two possibilities, so I find joy in reading stories like this one, and continue to hope that someday, one of them will come to fruition.

Re:Which is more likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262000)

Cold fusion ? Well, hot fusion is much more likely (read: we know it exists), no need to resort to some alchemist's dream.

Re:Not the answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262002)

Yeah! You hear that eggheads? Stop inventing new shit, grab your shovels, and get down to the commune. Collective farming for the win!

Important point- power used (3, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261688)

We've used solar power to split water into hydrogen for decades, what matters is cost. How does this compare with standard solar splitting based on surface area? Do you need a crystalline structure to work? Given that raw silicon is more common and more used I expect it's much cheaper. The article talks about semiconductors so it probably needs a crystal structure (drives up cost), so even with better efficiency (single step vs multi step splitting) it's still probably more costly.

Hydrogen == Global Warming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261730)

Hydrogen has been found to cause global warming. So this puts us back where we were plus making our cars (and their fuel systems) much more expensive.

GaN is expensive (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37261790)

Gallium nitride (GaN) is used to make blue LED chips, typically vacuum deposited on top of sapphire wafers. While it is a very good semiconductor, it is an order of magnitude more expensive than silicon wafers. Unless there is a huge breakthrough in mass manufacturing cheap GaN wafers, it will be much cheaper to use silicon solar cells to generate electricity and electrolyze water with it.

Efficiency? (5, Interesting)

rthille (8526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261810)

Does the paper talk about the efficiency of this solution vs Photovoltaic panels and electrolysis? If the hydrogen and oxygen would be split over a large area (say a roof or larger), how would the gasses be collected? It sounds like an interesting result, but not so practical in application...

Re:Efficiency? (5, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262018)

It sounds like an interesting result, but not so practical in application...

What's worse that this: based on the abstract [aps.org] , all they did is to theoretically compute the composition required to lower the bandgap from 3.8 eV to a 2eV required to split the water. Since not yet realized in practice, lots of other things are not (yet) known:
1. efficiency (including the problem of keeping off the recombination of H and OH that most probably result)
2. stability to corrosion
would be the first two to pop into my mind.

There's also a new nickel catalyst process (3, Interesting)

jwold (124863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37261966)

2 weeks ago this same source reported on research at the PNWNL [sciencedaily.com] that uses a Nickel catalyst for a 1000x improvement over the platinum catalyst process now used, for example, on the ISS.

Gallium - probably too expensive (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262024)

It uses gallium, which also makes great solar cells, more efficient than anything else. But the cost of gallium solar cells is so high that they're only used on spacecraft. They're about 3x more efficient than silicon solar cells, and 300x more expensive.

Same site carries the same story from 2008 (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262188)

Um... http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080219133226.htm [sciencedaily.com] "ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008) — Purdue University engineers have developed a new aluminum-rich alloy that produces hydrogen by splitting water and is economically competitive with conventional fuels for transportation and power generation. "We now have an economically viable process for producing hydrogen on-demand for vehicles, electrical generating stations and other applications," said Jerry Woodall, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue who invented the process. The new alloy contains 95 percent aluminum and 5 percent of an alloy that is made of the metals gallium, indium and tin. Because the new alloy contains significantly less of the more expensive gallium than previous forms of the alloy, hydrogen can be produced less expensively, he said."

Renewable? Err, no. (1)

lloy0076 (624338) | more than 2 years ago | (#37262206)

Hang on a moment, until we figure out a way to create hydrogen out of nothing (e.g. like the God mentioned in Genesis 1) then there's simply no such thing as a renewable resource!

muslims + hydrogen = boom (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37262280)

Golly, I wonder if cheap, ubiquitous access to hydrogen might have any negative side effects?

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...