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Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Scientists discovered cheaper way to make hydrogen from water

Researchers have discovered a cheaper way to make hydrogen from water: a team of scientists led by the UNSW has demonstrated a sustainable way to get hydrogen, which is necessary, among other things, for fueling vehicles hydrogen.

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Scientists from UNSW Sydney, Griffith University and Swinburne University of Technology have demonstrated that the capture of hydrogen by separating it from oxygen in water can be done using low-metals cost like iron and nickel (as catalysts), which speeds up the chemical reaction, while requiring less energy.

It should be noted that iron and nickel, which are found in abundance on Earth, would replace ruthenium, platinum and iridium, precious metals which until now have been considered as reference catalysts in the process of "Water fractionation".

Professor Chuan Zhao, of the UNSW School of Chemistry, explains that in water fractionation, two electrodes apply an electrical charge to the water, which allows the hydrogen to be separated from the water. 'oxygen. It can then be used as an energy carrier in a fuel cell.

“ What we do is coat the electrodes with our catalyst to reduce energy consumption. On this catalyst, there is a tiny nanoscale interface where iron and nickel meet at the atomic level, which then becomes an active site for water separation: this is where hydrogen can be separated from oxygen and captured as fuel, and oxygen can be released as environmentally friendly waste,” he explains.

Iron and nickel, but on a nanometric scale

Already in 2015, Professor Zhao's team invented a nickel-iron electrode for generating oxygen with unprecedented efficiency. However, Zhao believes that iron and nickel alone are not good enough catalysts for the generation of hydrogen, but that it is when they meet on the nanometric scale that the “magic operates ".

Nanoparticle design and electron microscopies. a Schematic representation of the Ni and Fe nanoparticles and the Ni-Fe Janus nanoparticles synthesis through the oleate-assisted micelle formation and the illustration on the HER across the Ni-γ-Fe2O3 interface in alkaline medium. b STEM-HAADF image of a single Ni–Fe NP nanoparticle and its corresponding EDS line-scan spectrum (scale bar: 1 nm). c High-resolution EDS mapping on STEM-HAADF images of the nanoparticles for Ni and Fe, selected area electron diffraction inset (image scale bars: 20 nm; SAED scale bar: 2 nm−1).

The nanoscale interface fundamentally changes the properties of these materials. Our results show that the nickel-iron catalyst can be as active as platinum in the generation of hydrogen,  ”he explains. "  An added benefit is that our nickel-iron electrode can catalyze both hydrogen and oxygen generation, so not only could we reduce production costs by using elements that are abundant on Earth, but also allow the use of one catalyst instead of two . ”

And indeed: a quick glance at current metal prices clearly demonstrates why this could be the change needed to accelerate the transition to the so-called hydrogen economy. Iron and nickel are priced at € 0.12 and € 19.65 per kilogram respectively. On the other hand, ruthenium, platinum and iridium are priced at € 10.6, € 37.9 and € 62.6 per gram respectively. In other words, thousands of times more expensive.

“ Right now, in our fossil fuel economy, we have this great incentive to move to a hydrogen economy so that we can use hydrogen as a clean and abundant energy carrier on Earth. Many people have been talking about the hydrogen economy for ages, but this time it seems like it really does happen  , "said Professor Zhao.

According to him, if water separation technology is developed, there could one day be hydrogen refueling stations (just like the service stations we know today), where we could refuel our hydrogen vehicles with hydrogen produced by this water division reaction. This could be done in a few minutes, compared to recharging hours in the case of electric cars with lithium battery.


Overall electrochemical splitting of water at the heterogeneous interface of nickel and iron oxide
Bryan H. R. Suryanto, Yun Wang, Rosalie K. Hocking, William Adamson & Chuan Zhao

Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 5599

Thursday, 12 December 2019

New study: Energy can be stored in the mountains using sand

Energy can be stored as sand or water for as long as needed.

Store energy in the mountains

Storing energy for long periods of time is one of the biggest challenges for a permanent move to a renewable and environmentally friendly energy matrix.

Solar energy, wind energy, wave energy, tidal energy and others are widely available, but they cannot maintain a constant supply of energy needed to meet the continuing demand of society.

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Julian Hunt and colleagues from Austria, Denmark and Italy believe they have come up with a suitable solution for situations where current alternatives do not apply - such as underwater hydropower , flow batteries and various ways of " storing the wind ", for example. .

The concept was named MGES for "mountain gravity energy storage" - and can be combined with a hydroelectric dam.

Generate electricity with sand

MGES consists of placing cranes on the edge of a steep mountain with sufficient reach to carry sand (or gravel) from a base storage to a mountain top storage location. An engine / generator moves sand-filled storage containers from the bottom up, similar to a cable car.

During this process, the potential energy is stored. Electricity is generated by lowering the sand from the upper storage location back to the base, harnessing the energy of the descending containers like a zip line.

If there are streams in the mountain, the MGES system can be hybridized with hydropower, where water would be used to fill storage containers in periods of high availability rather than sand or gravel, generating power.

MGES systems have the benefit that water can be added at any time in the system, thus increasing the possibility of capturing water from different heights on the mountain, which is not possible with conventional hydroelectric dams.

The nuclear fusion continues in a very distant future, so there are those who still bet on cold fusion

Sand does not evaporate

"One of the benefits [of the MGES system] is that sand is cheap and, unlike water, doesn't evaporate - so you never lose potential energy, and it can be reused countless times. That makes it particularly interesting for dry regions.

"In addition, hydroelectric plants are limited to a height difference of 1,200 meters due to very high hydraulic pressures. MGES plants can have height differences of more than 5,000 meters.

"Regions with high mountains, for example the Himalayas, Alps and Rockies, could therefore become important long-term energy storage centers. Other interesting places for MGES are islands such as Hawaii, Cape Verde, Madeira and the Isles. Pacific, with steep mountain terrain, "detailed Hunt.

To test the concept, the team proposed a future energy matrix for Molokai Island in Hawaii, using only wind , solar , batteries and MGES to meet the island's energy demand.

Although designed to store electricity on a large scale, liquid batteries are being tested in electric cars

Store energy

Hunt emphasizes that MGES technology is not suitable for meeting peak demand or storing energy in daily cycles; Its main advantage is to fill a gap in the market as a long term energy storage location.

MGES systems could, for example, store energy continuously for months and then generate electricity continuously for months or when water is available for hydropower, while batteries would handle daily storage cycles.

"It's important to note that MGES technology does not replace current energy storage options, but opens up new ways to store energy and harness untapped water potential in high mountain regions," said Hunt.


Article: Mountain Gravity Energy Storage: A new solution for closing the gap between existing short- and long-term storage technologies

Authors: Julian David Hunt, Behnam Zakeri, Giacomo Falchett, Andreas Nascimento, Yoshihide Wada, Keywan Riahi

Journal: Nature Energy

DOI: 10.1016 /

Saturday, 23 November 2019

First superconducting wind generator successfully tested

The superconducting generator is smaller and lighter than the equivalent of permanent magnets

Superconducting Wind Generator

A superconducting wind generator was successfully tested for the first time on an active, full-scale turbine.

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The 3.6 megawatt superconducting generator is designed, developed and manufactured by the European consortium EcoSwing, and field tested in Thyboron, Denmark.

"The size of wind turbines has increased significantly in recent decades. However, current technology has been having trouble keeping up with the trend of increasing levels of energy per unit," said Anne Bergen of the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Low.

To meet this challenge, the team built a “high temperature” (-196 ° C) barium oxide ( ReBCO ) superconducting wired generator , one of the rare earth family members.

This option required fewer rare earth materials than permanent magnet wind generators - also built with materials from the same family - resulting in a lower cost. The superconducting can also carry high current densities, resulting in denser in coil power and a smaller weight.

The union of universities and companies in the project allowed technology to be transferred from laboratories to industry

From lab to factory

"The generator field test was extremely successful. When the generator was installed at Thyboron, the turbine reached its desired power range, including over 650 hours of grid operation. This shows the compatibility of the superconducting generator technology with all elements of an operating environment such as variable speeds, grid failures, electromagnetic harmonics and vibrations, "said Bergen.

But the advances were not limited to the technical part of the generator.

"He demonstrated that the production of high temperature superconducting coils is not limited to specialized laboratories, but constitutes a successful technology transfer from science to industry. The high temperature superconducting rotor has also been assembled in an industrial environment, showing that Superconducting components can be deployed in a standard manufacturing environment.

"Now that the concept has been proven, we expect superconducting generator technology to begin to be widely applied to wind turbines ," added Bergen.


Article: Design and in-field testing of the world's first ReBCO rotor for a 3.6 MW wind generator

Authors: Anne Bergen, Rasmus Andersen, Markus Bauer, Hermann Boy, Marcel ter Brake, Patrick Brutsaert, Carsten Bührer, Marc Dhallé, Jesper Hansen, Herman ten Kate, Jürgen Kellers, Jens Krause, Erik Krooshoop, Christian Kruse, Hans Kylling, Martin Pilas, Hendrik Pütz, Anders Rebsdorf, Michael Reckhard, Eric Seitz, Helmut Springer, Nir Tzabar, Sander Wessel, Jan Wiezoreck , Tiemo Winkler, Konstantin Yagotyntsev

Magazine: Superconductor Science and Technology

Vol .: 32, Number 12

DOI: 10.1088 / 1361-6668 / ab48d6

Monday, 4 November 2019

Listen to the energy of lightning

Everyone knows that counting the seconds between the appearance of a lightning and the arrival of thunder gives the distance at which the lightning falls. Researchers at the Jean Le Rond Institute in Alembert and CEA have shown that this sound can also be used to estimate the energy of a lightning bolt. In this work published in Geophysical Research Letters , scientists deduce the geometry of lightning through a network of microphones, then calculate the energy.

© Institut Jean le Rond d'Alembert The acoustic energy of thunder as a function of the observation distance in km at the point of impact on the ground of the lightning. Squares represent simulated flashes and triangles measure HyMeX. Both follow a similar behavior.

Lightning rebalances the electrostatic charge between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. This electrostatic discharge locally increases the temperature of several tens of thousands of degrees, causing a shock wave that spreads in the atmosphere : thunder. If we know how to use this sound to estimate the distance at which a lightning struck, researchers at the Jean-Rond d'Alembert Institute (CNRS / Sorbonne University) and the CEA managed to use it to measure the distance power of lightning. A parameter that suffers from an uncertainty of up to three orders of magnitude.

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The team used the data measured in 2012 as part of the European project HyMeX, which studies the Mediterranean climate . Four microphones recorded for two months , and continuously, the sound emanating from the sky of the Cevennes, a region particularly struck by the storms. These recordings were first used to reconstruct the geometry of lightning, proving the correlation between the location of acoustic and electromagnetic sources. Then, the researchers used them again to isolate, within the thunder, the signalacoustics from some of its branches, including the main channel that connects the storm cloud and the ground. Now we can calculate the thunder of a flash from its geometry and its energy. The researchers compared field-collected thunders to a simulated thunderstorm database of 72 virtual flashes, statistically consistent with true lightning. This has shown that acoustic measurements give very good results in estimating the energy of negative-lightning flashes, which represent 90% of the cloud-to-cloud discharges, and at a distance of between three and twelve kilometers from the pickups.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

A new device captures CO2 from the air, stores it and returns it on demand

With the growth of human industrial activities, the rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased considerably. In recent years, various methods for capturing CO2 in the air and transforming it into useful products have been developed with more or less efficiency. Recently, a team of MIT researchers developed a device to capture CO2 in the air at any concentration, store it, and redistribute it for practical uses such as CO2 injection for agriculture. or the gasification of beverages.

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A new way to remove carbon dioxide from the air could be an important tool in the fight against climate change. The system can operate at virtually any level of concentration, even at the roughly 400 parts per million currently in the atmosphere.

Most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a gas stream require higher concentrations, such as those present in flue gas emissions from fossil fuel plants. Some variants have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in the air, but the new method consumes much less energy and costs less.

A "battery" to capture and release CO2 on demand

The technique, based on the passage of air through a stack of charged electrochemical plates, is described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science . The device is essentially a large specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air (or other gas stream) passing on its electrodes during its charging, then releases the gas during its discharge.

In operation, the device would simply alternate between loading and unloading, with fresh air or feed gas being blown into the system during the loading cycle, and then the pure and concentrated carbon dioxide being expelled during unloading.

As the battery charges, an electrochemical reaction takes place on the surface of each electrode stack. These are covered with a compound called polyanthraquinone, composed of carbon nanotubes.

In this scheme of the new system, the air entering the top right passes into one of the two chambers (gray rectangular structures) containing battery electrodes that attract carbon dioxide. Then, the air flow passes into the other chamber, while the carbon dioxide accumulated in the first chamber is sent to a separate storage tank (right). These alternative flows allow a continuous operation of the process in two stages. Credits: Sahag Voskian / T. Alan Hatton

Electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily react with its molecules in the airflow or feed gas, even when present at very low concentrations. The reverse reaction occurs when the battery is discharged - at this point, the device can provide some of the power needed for the entire system - and thus ejects a pure carbon dioxide stream. The entire system operates at ambient temperature and at normal atmospheric pressure.

Electrodes optimized to capture CO2 at any concentration

" The biggest advantage of this technology over most other carbon capture or absorption technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent's affinity for carbon dioxide, " explains Voskian. In other words, the electrode material, by its nature, " has a high affinity or no affinity ", depending on the state of charge or discharge of the battery. Other reactions used for carbon capture require intermediate stages of chemical treatment or the provision of substantial energy such as heat or pressure differences.

Diagram of a unique electro-swing adsorption electrochemical cell, with porous electrodes and electrolyte separators. The outer electrodes, coated with a poly-1,4-anthraquinone composite, can capture CO2 when applying a reducing potential via the carboxylation of the quinone and release the CO2 during the polarity reversal. . Credits: Sahag Voskian / T. Alan Hatton

This binary affinity captures carbon dioxide in any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and releases it into any carrier stream, including 100% CO2, " says Voskian. That is, with any gas passing through the stack of these flat electrochemical cells, the captured carbon dioxide will also be ejected during the discharge. For example, if the desired end product is pure carbon dioxide for use in the carbonation of beverages, a stream of pure gas may be blown through the plates. The captured gas is then released from the plates and joins the stream.

A replacement for fossil fuels currently used to generate CO2

In some non-alcoholic beverage bottling plants, fossil fuels are burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to make beverages. Similarly, some farmers burn natural gas to produce carbon dioxide to grow their crops in greenhouses. The new system could eliminate this need for fossil fuels in these applications and, at the same time, eliminate greenhouse gases from the air.

Alternatively, the flow of pure carbon dioxide could be compressed and injected underground for long-term disposal, or even converted into fuel through a series of chemical and electrochemical processes. " All of this is done under ambient conditions - no thermal, chemical or pressurized input is needed. It's just these very thin sheets, with both active surfaces, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a power source . "

The new device can be used in many fields requiring the generation and injection of carbon dioxide, replacing fossil fuels. Credits: Sahag Voskian / T. Alan Hatton

We have been striving to develop new technologies to solve a range of environmental problems, avoiding the use of thermal energy sources, changing the system pressure, or adding chemicals to complete the separation cycles. of liberation. This carbon dioxide capture technology is a clear demonstration of the power of electrochemical approaches that require only small voltage variations to drive separations, "says Hatton.

In a working installation, for example in a power plant producing continuous exhaust gas, two sets of cells of this type of electrochemical cells could be mounted side by side to operate in parallel, the combustion gases being directed from first to a first set for carbon capture, then diverted to the second set while the first set enters its discharge cycle.

An efficient, inexpensive method with low energy consumption

By alternating, the system can still capture and evacuate the gas. In the laboratory, the team proved that the system could withstand at least 7000 charge-discharge cycles, with a loss of efficiency of 30% during this period. Researchers estimate that they can easily improve this figure between 20,000 and 50,000 cycles.

The electrodes themselves can be made with standard chemical treatment methods. Although this is done today in a laboratory, they can be adapted so that they can finally be manufactured in large quantities through a roll-to-roll process, similar to a newspaper printing press. " We've developed very cost-effective techniques, " Voskian says, arguing that they could be produced for tens of dollars per square meter of electrode.

Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system consumes little, as it only requires about one gigajoule of energy per tonne of carbon dioxide captured. Other existing methods have energy consumption ranging from 1 to 10 gigajoules per tonne, depending on the input carbon dioxide concentration.