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Inexpensive Nanosheet Catalyst Splits Hydrogen From Water 141

An anonymous reader writes "Traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen are either extremely expensive or release lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed an electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with drastically more affordable materials. Goodbye platinum; hello nickel and ammonia."
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Inexpensive Nanosheet Catalyst Splits Hydrogen From Water

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  • Will it work? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Auroch ( 1403671 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:34PM (#39974077)
    This article is an excellent example of the types of future-energy that we'll need to rely on.

    Unfortunately, many people don't believe that spending money now is in our best interest - they'd rather wait until gas hits $10/gallon to invest in reducing the average price of energy. There are already many semi-viable alternative fuels, but for some reason, a large majority of people are content to continue "as-is", and let the current energy crisis continue.

    Most of those people though, claim "What energy crisis?"
  • Re:Will it work? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:54PM (#39974229)

    Few are content, but far fewer can do anything about it. We live in a capitalist society, and our challenges are cost and logistics, not complacency.

  • Re:Will it work? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:58PM (#39974255)

    That is because "most people" refers to the 1% who have the money necessary to invest in this sort of thing. And of course they don't believe there is an energy crisis they aren't effected by it.

  • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:08PM (#39974363)

    The latest nuclear fission technologies are a lot safer than most people believe.

    I think you answered your own question there.

  • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:23PM (#39974499) Journal

    Blame Wall Street friend. Myself and many others have said that long term research is essential for the very survival of our race and its pretty obvious to anyone with eyes that wars for resources will replace wars for territory in the future. the problem is on wall street if you don't say "Damn everything but the quarterly earnings!" then your stock is gonna take a big old dump and bye bye buddy.

    Personally i believe in a broad approach, i think we should be building at the very least small scale test reactors for thorium and for reprocessing our nuclear waste into usable fuel, we should be investing in battery tech and fuel cells and every other possibility that has any real chance for success because frankly the one that trips over a viable replacement for gasoline is gonna make Gates and Buffet look poor and whatever country they are in will probably have a new golden age but sadly the USA is just too short sighted thanks to the government sucking the dicks on wall street to do anything that the money men don't approve of.

    I bet the next big breakthrough will probably come from China, they are investing heavily in science and like Japan in the 50s they are learning and improving daily thanks to all the work we have given them. Remember when made in japan meant shit? In a decade i wouldn't doubt if the same change happens in China. Looking at history one has to wonder if this is not inevitable, if once an empire gets to a certain size the wealth becomes too concentrated and apathy and trying to hang onto what those at the top have becomes more important than innovation and stagnation simply can't be avoided.

  • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:02PM (#39974789)

    Say you want or need to live off the grid

    If you need to live off the grid you're already such an edge case that we don't need to be optimizing for you. Living off the grid is expensive. And if you just want to live off the grid, then you're obviously not optimizing for 1) low cost or 2) efficient use of resources, so why should I care about your problem?

    How about this for crazy, install one on an offshore wind farm and run a pipe back to shore and have a wind farm producing not electricity but hydrogen gas!

    Yes, it's crazy alright, but what good is that? The electricity->H2->electricity round trip efficiency is something like 25%, and that's not counting the massive amounts of energy required to compress the H2. 25% sucks bad enough that you can't change things with handwaving as you scale that efficiency to the transportation sector.

    Put the energy directly into the battery (we already have better batteries than H2 fuel cells) and drive several times as far. There's a reason electric cars are here today, but fuel cell cars are not.

  • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:38PM (#39975039)

    The platinum is not consumed during the electrolysis process. While the high cost of platinum does affect the cost of the device used to generate hydrogen, it has no effect on the cost of the hydrogen gas itself. Almost the entirety of the cost of hydrogen gas is the energy used to create it by cracking water.

    You think so? I reckon you're missing the "thermodynamics of capital". If you have to borrow $10k to start your electrolysis company, then the prices you charge will have to cover the $1k/year repayment on that loan. But if you only borrow $1k to start your electrolysis company, then the prices you charge will only have to cover $0.1k/year repayments.

  • by asm2750 ( 1124425 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:48PM (#39975111)
    Seriously I am tired of all these researchers saying they found a way to break bonds in water to make hydrogen a feasible long term energy source or a new photovoltaic technology that has 40% efficiency and then say down the road "oh the commercial version is 5 to 10 years out". Its always 5 to 10 years out, heres a suggestion how about announce your results or accomplishments when you ACTUALLY have a working commercial product that is in production. Maybe then I'll give a fuck.
  • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbsr ( 2343058 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:10PM (#39975253)

    Nuclear is bad. Nuclear is not safe and never will be. It is also going to be necessary for the next 50-100 years.

    All strong sources of energy are inherently dangerous and expensive (in absolute terms). They differ enough from each other to make you choose your poison, that's it. For the amount of energy nuclear plants produce, they are relatively cheap and safe.

    Coal has many operational issues, but failure is limited to the plant and extremely immediate surrounding area.

    Coal plants are failing continuously (as a part of their design), and by doing so they affect much larger area than nuclear plants will ever do.

  • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:48AM (#39976829) Journal

    But you missed my point friend, in that if say Apple WERE to announce they were gonna fund such a thing to that amount of money wall street would take a massive dump on their stock and then they simply wouldn't have the funds.

    The entire system IMHO has been taken over by leeches, you have corps that literally are doing NANOsecond trades, now how is that in ANY way helpful to innovation? The original intent of trading stock was like what kickstarter is now, you have an idea and need funding, others believe your idea will work and provide funding for a piece of the proceeds. I would argue that the lack of tech actually helped because one had to focus on the long term.

    But now the entire system is completely short sighted because any other view is crucified by wall street, it is the reason why you have companies sitting on piles of money instead of investing it into more plants or better infrastructure, simply because anything that affects the bottom line in any way that isn't immediately positive is shat upon. in my own area neither DSL nor cable has moved a single foot in over a decade, even though the town has grown by over a third, why? Because they are both publicly traded companies and their stock goes down when they spend money on lines but goes up when they buy out some other company, so that is what they do instead.

    Like I said looking at history i have to wonder if this is simply inevitable because in every empire you see the same progression, first growth and innovation followed by wealth concentration then finally stagnation and downfall. Just as once the sun never set on the British empire so too it appears our own day in the sun is setting, most likely to be replaced by China and India. lets just hope they find the answer before we are all out of time.

  • Re:Will it work? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @04:33AM (#39977369)

    You use the electricity generated by nuclear power stations to drive the (energy intensive) process of generating hydrogen, that you then use for fuelling vehicles.

    It's the same process as simply charging up an electric car, it's just a different energy storage method.

    Like the purely electric car, however, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have the problem of range brought about because hydrogen has an extremely low energy density and is difficult to store effectively as a gas or a liquid (compared to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel, for example).

    The market is all interlinked, and that market is energy.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner