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Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

Posted February 06, 2013 10:01 AM

From Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories:

A research group headed by Dr. Naoto Umezawa, a Senior Researcher at the NIMS International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), succeeded in theoretical design of a photocatalyst that enables hydrogen production by water splitting using sunlight.

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Guru
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#1

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/06/2013 11:28 AM

Yep. That could come in handy.

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#2

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/06/2013 10:00 PM

How does one tell that there has been success in a theoretical design?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/07/2013 12:38 AM

Well, it means it could theoretically work! Success starts with publishing it!

Nobody said they are going to have a workable solution!

But on another note.

How can one "theoretically design" something???

Is it not designed but there is a theorie how to design it???

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#4

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/07/2013 8:24 AM

There is a 'holy grail' aspect to hydrogen as a fuel source. The idea of it as a fuel that only has water as the waste released when it's burned makes it the ultimate green energy source. The problem with it, of course, is that there is no natural reservoir of pure hydrogen; it has to be released from a molecule, like water, that has the hydrogen already chemically bound up. It takes a lot of energy to release the hydrogen, and the energy gained when it's burned is simply the same amount of energy that was needed to dissociate it from water in the first place. -- All of this is well known.

So to make hydrogen viable, economically, as a fuel, it has to be dissociated from water as cheaply as possible - cheaper than the cost, for example, of fracking to release natural gas, which is also a fairly good 'green' energy source (as compared to coal or oil). It's often assumed, as the researchers here have assumed, that using sunlight to drive the electrolytic reaction to dissociate water is the cheapest way to get hydrogen. Perhaps this is true. But the question remains whether this is still cheaper than the costs associated with producing natural gas. [Which might include any related costs needed to ensure water wells are protected and no earthquake damage is done, when fracking.]

But sunlight-to-hydrogen isn't really 'free'. The costs of land, the costs of the facility and supporting infrastructure to generate hydrogen, the costs of storing and distributing hydrogen, etc., all need to be factored in.

It seems to me that for the forseeable future hydrogen will remain a rather expensive 'niche' energy source. One that is used only where the requirements for a highly compact, highly energy-dense source of power will justify its use. Vehicles going into outer space being the most obvious example.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/07/2013 12:21 PM

Nuclear power could turn out to be the cheapest source of hydrogen production over the long run via high temperature catalytic driven molecular dissociation....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_splitting

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#6

Re: Success in Theoretical Design of Photocatalyst Enabling Mass Production of Hydrogen

02/07/2013 12:55 PM

OK. They proposed (again another) catalyst. Great. No experimental verification of any of the most basic numbers. No idea of efficiency or life expectancy for example. Other than these, it is a wonderful invention.

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