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Sunlight turns plastic waste into key element of hydrogen fuel cells. Our plastic waste problem is a large one, and it’s only getting larger. This is a huge environmental problem that requires some big picture thinking, but scientists are also exploring more subtle ways of chipping away at it and that includes turning plastic waste into sources of fuel.

New research out of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has thrown another interesting possibility into the mix, with scientists converting consumer plastic into a chemical used to to produce electricity in hydrogen fuel cells by exposing it to sunlight. The key to the breakthrough was the introduction of a new kind of photocatalyst, which is a material that harnesses light energy to power chemical reactions. In search of new ways to convert plastic waste into useful chemicals, the NTU team turned to a type of affordable, biocompatible metal called vanadium. Nanyang Technological University But the eco-credentials of their technology don’t end there. New algae fuel cell design ramps up the efficiency. We could learn a lot about energy production from plants, who have been tirelessly turning water and sunlight into energy for millions of years.

Recently engineers have mimicked photosynthesis with devices like artificial leaves, or harnessed it with fuel cells powered by algae. Now, a University of Cambridge team has developed a new design for the latter, which is apparently five times more efficient than existing devices, and much cheaper to make and easier to use. Algae produce electrons in their cells when they're photosynthesizing, and some of them move to the outside of the cell where they can be collected by devices. Fuel cells built on this principle are often called biophotovoltaics (BPVs), and they harvest energy through two core processes: charging, which harvests light to produce electrons, and power delivery, which transfers those electrons to an electrical circuit.

Hybrid solid-state system harvests more hydrogen from water. Clean and plentiful, hydrogen is a promising fuel source, but there are a few problems standing in the way of it becoming mainstream. South Korean scientists have now developed a new system for producing hydrogen from water, which that they say overcomes some of these issues and produces the gas more efficiently than other water electrolysis systems.

The new device was developed by a research team consisting of scientists from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) and Sookmyung Women's University, and is based on an existing design called a solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC). These work like other electrolyzers in that an electrical current splits water into its constituent molecules – hydrogen and oxygen – which can then be harvested. The difference is that in this setup, both electrodes are solid-state, as is the electrolyte that carries the ions between them.

But SOECs still have room for improvement. Genetic modification gives major boost to algal hydrogen production. Hydrogen has the potential to be a clean and sustainable fuel, but realizing that potential relies of clean and sustainable methods to produce it. Algae might fit the bill, but it only produces hydrogen in small amounts. Now, using genetic engineering, researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have modified the organism, which could enable it to be used to mass-produce hydrogen on an industrial scale.

Hydrogen might burn clean, producing only water as a by-product, but currently over 90 percent of the hydrogen produced in the United States comes from fossil fuels. Although algae can produce hydrogen using photosynthesis, it was believed that this only occurred for a few minutes at dawn, resulting in limited amounts of the gas. But tests by a team led by Dr. Further tests revealed that the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down in the presence of oxygen, was integral to algae's hydrogen production. Dr. "I grew up on a farm, dreaming of hydrogen," continues Dr. Self-contained prototype brings artificial photosynthesis a step closer to commercial reality.

While solar cells and wind turbines are the devices many people will think of for off-grid electricity production, the development of practical artificial photosynthesis for the creation of hydrogen via solar-powered water splitting could radically alter the way we produce energy locally. As part of the on-going pursuit of this goal, researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich claim to have created a working, compact, self-contained artificial photosynthesis system that could form the basis for practical commercial devices. Photosynthesis in plants and certain types of algae is the process where light energy is transformed into chemical energy to synthesize simple carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water.

In artificial photosynthesis, or photoelectrochemical water splitting, solar energy is used to split hydrogen molecules from water (or even further refine it into methane in some systems). "That doesn't sound like much," said Bugra Turan. The video below shows the system in action. Latest bionic leaf now 10 times more efficient than natural photosynthesis. Over the last few years, great strides have been made in creating artificial leaves that mimic the ability of their natural counterparts to produce energy from water and sunlight. In 2011, the first cost-effective, stable artificial leaves were created, and in 2013, the devices were improved to self-heal and work with impure water. Now, scientists at Harvard have developed the "bionic leaf 2.0," which increases the efficiency of the system well beyond nature's own capabilities, and used it to produce liquid fuels for the first time.

The project is the work of Harvard University's Daniel Nocera, who led the research teams on the previous versions of the artificial leaf, and Pamela Silver, Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Like the previous versions, the bionic leaf 2.0 is placed in water and, as it absorbs solar energy, it's able to split the water molecules into their component gases, hydrogen and oxygen.

Source: Harvard. Hybrid artificial photosynthesis technique produces hydrogen and methane. Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.

Simply put, the process of photosynthesis turns light energy into chemical energy. In plants and certain types of algae, energy from incoming sunlight is used as the power source to synthesize simple carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. "This study represents another key breakthrough in solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiency and artificial photosynthesis," said Professor Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. New record energy efficiency for artificial photosynthesis. As the world moves towards developing new avenues of renewable energy, the efficiencies of producing fuels such as hydrogen must increase to the point that they rival or exceed those of conventional energy sources to make them a viable alternative.

Now researchers at Monash University in Melbourne claim to have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen at a world-record 22 percent efficiency, which is a significant step towards making cheap, efficient hydrogen production a reality. Efficiency records for solar-powered hydrogen production have continued to rise over the years, and much more rapidly as the technology and techniques improve. Even as late as December last year Gizmag reported a solar-driven hydrogen record efficiency at the time of just 12.3 percent, so this new record shows a very healthy 10 percent improvement on that and beats out the previous record of 18 percent. Solar-powered hydrogen generation using two of the most abundant elements on Earth.

One potential clean energy future requires an economical, efficient, and relatively simple way to generate copious amounts of hydrogen for use in fuel-cells and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Often achieved by using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, the ideal method would be to mine hydrogen from water using electricity generated directly from sunlight without the addition of any external power source.

Hematite – the mineral form of iron – used in conjunction with silicon has shown some promise in this area, but low conversion efficiencies have slowed research. Now scientists have discovered a way to make great improvements, giving hope to using two of the most abundant elements on earth to efficiently produce hydrogen. In this vein, researchers from Boston College, UC Berkeley, and China's University of Science and Technology have hit upon the technique of "re-growing" the hematite, so that a smoother surface is obtained along with a higher energy yield. Extracting Hydrogen From Plants Could Lower Fuel Costs. Extracting Hydrogen From Plants Could Lower Fuel Costs (8)Apr-08-13 Researchers have developed a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from plants, opening the door to a new low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source.

Developed by a team at Virginia Tech, the technique involves using a combination of a polyphosphate and a blend of enzymes to extract hydrogen from any biological element that contains xylose—which can be found in every plant. The process is also more efficient and eco-friendly that conventional hydrogen extraction methods. The team hopes to bring the technology to market within three years. More Info: Hydrogen Harvesting Device Stores Hydrogen in a Sponge.

Hydrogen Harvesting Device Stores Hydrogen in a Sponge (3)Sep-15-14 A water-splitting device that stores hydrogen in a sponge could one day allow hydrogen fuel to be harvested on Mars—or provide power to remote areas here on Earth. Currently, creating hydrogen fuel from water requires a great deal of electricity. Renewable energy sources are not able to meet the need, since their power can be intermittent, and the recent 'artificial leaf' technology is dangerous to scale up. The new harvesting device, created by Professor Lee Cronin and his team at Glasgow University, can operate on a single burst of power and still harvest more hydrogen gas than its contemporaries. It works by zapping the water with a single jolt of power to release the oxygen, after which a silicon-based chemical mediator acts as a 'liquid sponge' to absorb the loose protons and electrons. More Info: New Coating Helps Usher in Artificial Leaves.

New Coating Helps Usher in Artificial Leaves (2)Mar-10-15 A new coating developed by a team at Caltech has brought us a step closer to artificial leaves able to harness sunlight to create hydrogen fuel. The artificial leaf under development by the Caltech team is made up of two electrodes (a photoanode and a photocathode) and a membrane. While the photoanode harvests the sun to oxidize water molecules, the photocathode recombines the resulting protons and electrons to create hydrogen gas. Meanwhile, the membrane keeps the gases separated and collects it for delivery. The technology has been in development for some time, but has been hindered by the electrodes' tendency to rust when exposed to water—and creating a functional protective coating has proved difficult.

More Info: Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals. Using solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals.

But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process. In addition to the nickel and iron catalysts used for the electrodes in their electrolyzer, the researchers are using solar absorbers made of perovskite – another abundant material – in the solar cells. Perovskite has been generating interest in recent years for its use in different kinds of solar cells as well as in solar water splitting. Share. Could moly sulfide be the key to cheaper hydrogen production? Chemical engineers have found a 30-year-old recipe that stands to make future hydrogen production cheaper and greener.

The recipe has led researchers to a way to liberate hydrogen from water via electrolysis using molybdenum sulfide – moly sulfide for short – as the catalyst in place of the expensive metal platinum. While hydrogen is relatively abundant here on Earth, it is generally bound to either carbon or oxygen to form methane and water respectively. Producing hydrogen currently involves liberating it from methane at a cost of between US$1 and $2 per kilogram.

And the world’s hunger for hydrogen continues to grow, currently we consume 55 billion kilograms of the element per year, making freeing it from methane or water big business. The other side of the equation is the by-product of production. Enter moly sulfide. That was until Stanford Engineering's Jens Nørskov, then at the Technical University of Denmark, noticed this structure differed at the edges of the crystal lattice. Silicon/nickel water splitter could lead to cheaper hydrogen. While not a primary source of energy, hydrogen, because of its large energy density, provides a vehicle with which to store and transport energy. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells can use sunlight to sustainably split water into hydrogen and oxygen, but efficient PEC materials tend to corrode rapidly in use.

A Stanford research group has been studying this problem, and has found that depositing a thin layer of nickel atoms on a silicon PEC electrode allows it to operate for over 80 hours with no sign of corrosion. If you want to harvest the energy from sunlight on a large scale, looking into using silicon would be a good start. Cheap and workable owing largely to the massive infrastructure built to support the fabrication of integrated circuits, silicon can absorb from the near-IR into the UV, a range that covers the peak wavelengths of the Sun's radiation. Silicon solar cells have attained as much as 30 percent conversion of sunlight into electricity. So his group tried it out. Self-healing “artificial leaf” produces energy from dirty water. Simpler, cheaper way to make liquid methanol fuel using CO2 and sunlight. Computer model indicates promising new catalyst for generating hydrogen from water.

FORDEC. Silicon nanoparticles could lead to on-demand hydrogen generation. Feature: Small modular nuclear reactors - the future of energy? Inexpensive catalyst for producing hydrogen under real-world conditions found. Australian researchers develop promising new approach to hydrogen storage. New nanocrystals let solar panels generate electricity ... and hydrogen gas.

Panansonic develops world's most efficient artificial photosynthesis system. Nanosheet catalyst brings a hydrogen economy one step closer to reality. Harvard scientists create hydrogen fuel cell that lasts longer. SiGNa receives USAID funding to develop portable hydrogen power. Ceramic Fuel Cells :: Mitglieder des Managements. Record setting small-scale solid oxide fuel cell could power neighborhoods. Portable fuel cell uses butane to charge gadgets. Solar energy-harvesting “nanotrees” could produce hydrogen fuel on a mass scale - (Private Browsing) Apple files patents for hydrogen fuel cell technology to power mobile devices. Algal protein provides more efficient way to split water and produce hydrogen. Alternative tech could lead to cheaper fuel cells. Nissan doubles power density with new Fuel Cell Stack. Research demonstrates that activated carbon could store hydrogen at room temperature.

Researchers turn wastewater into “inexhaustible” source of hydrogen. Japanese company lays claim to world's cheapest hydrogen production process. Portable microreactor to produce hydrogen from everyday fossil fuels. Hydrogen generated from sunlight and ethanol. New process allows fuel cells to run on coal. Researchers produce hydrogen from sunlight, water and rust.