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Did some wizard at MIT solve the energy crisis? It sure seem like it. It's got to be too good to be true. If so, hello hydrogen economy! Now we can all get back to work! lol.


"MIT claims 24/7 solar power

PORTLAND, Ore. — Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have combined a liquid catalyst with photovoltaic cells to achieve what they claim is a solar energy system that could generate electricity around the clock.

A liquid catalyst was added to water before electrolysis to achieve what the researchers claim is almost 100-percent efficiency. When combined with photovoltaic cells to store energy chemically, the resulting solar energy systems could generate electricity around the clock, the MIT team said.

"The hard part of getting water to split is not the hydrogen -- platinum as a catalyst works fine for the hydrogen. But platinum works very poorly for oxygen, making you use much more energy," said MIT chemistry professor Daniel Nocera. "What we have done is made a catalyst work for the oxygen part without any extra energy. In fact, with our catalyst almost 100 percent of the current used for electrolysis goes into making oxygen and hydrogen." "


http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=2JLKEZDUPJZA0QSNDLSCKHA?articleID=209900956


There you have it! Almost 100 percent efficient electrolysis. If true the world will change overnight.
 

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Holy crap! Now there is absolutely no excuse to nay-say solar power, even in northern areas. I can't wait to find out more about this.

UPDATE: you still need a platinum catalyst, time to use science to replace that.
 

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Holy crap! Now there is absolutely no excuse to nay-say solar power, even in northern areas. I can't wait to find out more about this.

UPDATE: you still need a platinum catalyst, time to use science to replace that.

There has been some very recent development on this as well. I don't know if the two technologies can work together but I'm confident that nanotechnology will be used to increase the surface area of existing electrodes just like what is being done with new lithium-ion electrodes. Here is one candidate:


"Before the use of QSI-Nano(r) catalysts, production of hydrogen through electrolysis had been hindered by high-cost catalysts and low efficiency. The formulation of Nano NiFe catalysts now makes it possible to produce hydrogen with an efficiency exceeding a key U.S. Department of Energy benchmark."

http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=7021
 

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Very nice. All these breakthroughs can't come fast enough though. If we could cheaply mass produce carbon nanotubes of any configuration basically all of our energy problems would be gone.
 

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Very nice. All these breakthroughs can't come fast enough though. If we could cheaply mass produce carbon nanotubes of any configuration basically all of our energy problems would be gone.

Well, nanotubes are just one part of nanotechnology. Do you have a specific nanotube application you are talking about? I know there is silicon nanowires for a new lithium-ion cell but They are still working out the chemistry on that, not the mass production.
 

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Well, nanotubes are just one part of nanotechnology. Do you have a specific nanotube application you are talking about? I know there is silicon nanowires for a new lithium-ion cell but They are still working out the chemistry on that, not the mass production.
I meant nanotubes as a catch-all for nanotech, but really nanotubes have an unlimited number of applications. You can mix different kinds of atoms in with the carbon to give the nanotubes all kinds of exotic electrochemical properties, you're really only limited by your imagination and understanding of chemistry and physics. Maybe that should be the other way around I don't know. Lets not get ahead of ourselves here though. In the near future I look forward to carbon nanotubes and other nano-scale materials revolutionizing capacitor and battery technology. And who knows what else!
 

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Does this mean we can't call them Fool Sells anymore? Aw, shoot. That was so clever too.:rolleyes: This invention, while yet to be proven and may be no more revolutionary than the cold fusion discoveries of yesteryear, illustrates that in these turbulent times of energy transition, no one can accurately predict the dominant technology of tomorrow. Nobody has a crystal ball and so we have to keep our minds open to all the possibilities.

GM should march right over to MIT and cozy up to this guy. Get there before Honda.
 

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Does this mean we can't call them Fool Sells anymore? Aw, shoot. That was so clever too.:rolleyes: This invention, while yet to be proven and may be no more revolutionary than the cold fusion discoveries of yesteryear, illustrates that in these turbulent times of energy transition, no one can accurately predict the dominant technology of tomorrow. Nobody has a crystal ball and so we have to keep our minds open to all the possibilities.

GM should march right over to MIT and cozy up to this guy. Get there before Honda.


Yep! While fuel cells still don't have the greatest efficiencies and if you think about it, you can take a solar cell and go directly into a battery bank and get around 90% of the electricity back. That is much better than current fuel cell technology. However, that point really doesn't matter because of the shear convenience of being able to store untold amounts of energy anywhere you have an electrical source. Expensive battery banks? Huge pumped storage hydro plants? Nope, you can just bury huge tanks into the ground and store as much hydrogen as you like. You can even liquefy it if desired. With the new, cheap roll-to-roll solar panels that are just starting to come out (www.nanosolar.com) you can just cover everything and connect it right up to storage tanks. It really blows the mind! You can provide the grid with exactly the amount of energy it needs very easily by controlling the flow of hydrogen into the fuel cell. Oh, and did you hear it might also be a cheap method to make clean water? You just use saltwater as the base liquid (if the reaction works). Unlimited fresh water and energy.

It should be very interesting in the next few months to see how far they need to go to make a practical device. People around the world might be demonstrating test devices very shortly. We should then get an idea of what we can expect and when.

In the mean time, all hands on deck for solar panel, plug-in hybrid vehicle, lithium-ion battery, fuel cell, etc. development. We should already be on these regardless of this breakthrough.
 

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Implications and details

This is a very confusing article. From what I can gather, despite the reference to it, this process has nothing to do with photosynthesis. The electricity can be supplied by any means, PV being one possibility. If you use PV, you are then limited by the cost and efficiency of PV. If you want to use the hydrogen in a vehicle, you have to have the equipment to compress and store hydrogen at high pressure. Cost of PV + catalyst cells + compressors + high pressure storage tanks + fuel cells for 16 kWHr. Contrast this with a tank full of flex fuel.

The article also implies that the substrate may have a very limited life, or number of cycles, because of inherent decomposition. There is also an implication that the reaction rate is very slow, because it is a diffusion limited half potential, i.e. just oxygen. You would need a staggering number and volume of cells (that have to be designed to separately pump out hydrogen and oxygen) to supply daily energy to a high current density 16kWHr Li battery. The article is limited in descriptive detail so this is is all supposition on my part. Texas, if you reply, be civil!
 

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I agree. It is a totaly confusing article, unclear what exactly the invention is.

ITM power is already busy with producing home hydrogen electrolyses systems, with cheap polymer electrolysers (with 50% efficiency).

Lucas
 

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^^ This doesn't make fuel cell cars any more practical! This discovery opens up the possibility of using hydrogen as mass energy storage for the electrical grid of the future, which would make switching over to mostly solar and wind power much much easier.

edit: oh so there are two pages now
 

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The article linked in the original post makes it quite clear what the invention is. It's a new liquid catalyst that boosts electrolysis to near 100%. The new catalyst is very cheap and non-toxic.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Surely this doesn't mean you are giving up on quick recharge EVs? :)


Of course not! For a vehicle it’s still more practical and efficient to charge a battery from the wall socket. However, what supplies the wall can be a solar or wind farm that uses the electrolyze for mass energy storage. Storing hydrogen for use as grid power is still difficult but is much more convenient than pumped storage hydro or giant battery banks. If anything I'm willing to give up on pumped storage hydro. It will still work great but a 100 percent efficient electrolyzer is the holy grail.


Here is a very good article about the discovery:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/energy_digital/4276071.html
 

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Thank you for that clarification...for second there, I thought Hell had actually froze over, and the onset of the rapture was upon us. :D
 

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If you want to use the hydrogen in a vehicle, you have to have the equipment to compress and store hydrogen at high pressure. Cost of PV + catalyst cells + compressors + high pressure storage tanks + fuel cells for 16 kWHr. Contrast this with a tank full of flex fuel.
OK... Cost of PV + catalyst cells + compressors + high pressure storage tanks + fuel cells for 16 kWHr = Cost of pumping oil out of the ground, much of it here requiring the generation of steam to force it out + transportation of much of it from half way around the world + refining crude to gasoline + the manufacture of additional additives to reduce smog and increase engine life + power to pump water and create fertilizer for the agriculture for the ethanol component + harvesting + conversion of crop to ethanol + transportation to refinery for blending + manufacture of ICE, transmission and fuel tank for 16kwh? Is one system better than the other?

If we were building a new transportation system on another planet from scratch and it was decided that automobiles were desirable, would we still invest the money in oil/gas/ICE, or knowing what we do now go to hydrogen? One system is in place here on Earth and it already is paid for, proven and has economy of scale. The other would have to be built from the ground up at great expense. The new system can't possibly compete cost wise until it has economy of scale too. So the question is, do we save money and keep doing what we're doing until we can't do that anymore or do we move forward at great expense? Tough call. Because as much as we love the environment, energy independence and new technology, it's always about the money.
 

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All problems solved...utopia right around the corner.

Does this mean we can't call them Fool Sells anymore?
To the contrary, this process applies to the hydrogen aspect of the fuel cell.
The fuel cell itslef is still obscenely expensive & Dr Nocera's process is still many years away from wide-scale commercial application.
 
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