Photokina 2014 highlights

Hydrogen

Spherical silicon nanoparticles about 10 nanometers in diameter that can generate hydrogen...

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have created spherical silicon nanoparticles they claim could lead to hydrogen generation on demand becoming a “just add water” affair. When the particles are combined with water, they rapidly form hydrogen and silicic acid, a nontoxic byproduct, in a reaction that requires no light, heat or electricity. In experiments, the hydrogen produced was shown to be relatively pure by successfully being used to power a small fan via a small fuel cell.  Read More

Researchers have found an inexpensive and efficient catalyst that can produce hydrogen for...

Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel of the future, but producing it cleanly using platinum as a catalyst is simply too costly to service the world's energy needs. On the flipside, producing hydrogen with fossil fuels not only releases CO2 as a byproduct, but is unsustainable, negating hydrogen's green potential. However, hydrogen may yet make good on its promise thanks to a group of scientists at the University of Cambridge.  Read More

GE has unveiled its Durathon sodium battery, which should allow for improved performance a...

General Electric’s research team has unveiled its new Durathon battery, which the company says makes it cheaper to power buses using clean energy. It is used in tandem with a lithium battery and a hydrogen fuel cell, a combination that the researchers say makes it possible for the vehicle to achieve full performance with a much smaller fuel cell than previously possible.  Read More

Australian scientists have developed a promising new approach to hydrogen storage

Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, are developing a novel way to store hydrogen that could help turn it into a viable portable fuel source. The research centers on using synthesized nanoparticles of the compound sodium borohydride (NaBH4 for those who love chemistry), which when encased inside nickel shells exhibits surprising and practical storage properties including the ability to reabsorb hydrogen and release it at much lower temperatures than previously observed, making it an attractive proposition for transport applications.  Read More

The small prototype device created by researchers at EPFL

As scientists endeavor to increase the efficiency of solar panels, the challenge of storing the resultant energy cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way must also be met. To this end, researchers at Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausann (EPFL) have developed an inexpensive device that transforms light energy into hydrogen, for storage and later use. The new prototype makes use of sunlight, water, and metal oxides, including iron oxide – or rust.  Read More

USS Fife, a Spruance-class destroyer powered by gas turbines

Tell someone that you’ve invented a car that runs on water and they're liable to report you for fraud. That hasn’t stopped scientists and engineers at the U.S.. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) who want to run warships on seawater - or at least, to turn seawater into jet fuel. This may sound like they’ve been standing too close to the ether again, but the idea is to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and then convert these into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. If this proves practical, American naval vessels could refuel themselves at sea.  Read More

Scientists have developed new nanocrystals that allow solar panels to generate both electr...

At first glance, photovoltaic solar panels are brilliant. They’re self-contained, need no fuel and so long as the sun is shining, they make lots of lovely electricity. The trouble is, they’re expensive to make, batteries are poor storage systems for cloudy days, and the panels have a very short service life. Now, Dr. Mikhail Zamkov of Ohio's Bowling Green State University and his team have used synthetic nanocrystals to make solar panels more durable as well as capable of producing hydrogen gas.  Read More

Wei-Fu Chen examines the atomic structure of the platinum alternative electrocatalyst

Harnessing the power of hydrogen gas presents one of the most promising options available for obtaining a large-scale sustainable energy solution. However, there are numerous and significant challenges present in the production of pure hydrogen, one of the most prominent of which is the high costs associated with the use of rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum. Accordingly, the team at the Brookhaven National Laboratory set out to create a catalyst with high activity and low costs, that could facilitate the production of hydrogen as a high-density, clean energy source.  Read More

University of Wisconsin researchers discover nannorod catalyst that works as well as plati...

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified an inexpensive nanorod catalyst with efficiencies rivalling that of platinum. Composed of nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods, the new catalyst holds the promise of cheaper, more efficient microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate their own hydrogen from waste water  Read More

Harvard researchers have developed a solid-oxide fuel cell that doubles as a battery

Materials scientists at Harvard have created a fuel cell that not only produces energy but also stores it, opening up new possibilities in hydrogen fuel cell technologies. The solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) converts hydrogen into electricity, and could have an impact on small-scale portable energy applications.  Read More

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