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'major Discovery' From Mit Primed To Unleash Solar Revolution

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Excellent news

..With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy...Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials...The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity - whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source - runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said....

James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a "giant leap" toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.

"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind," said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. "The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production...."

Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.

MIT News

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Is it just me, or does this article make very little sense? Electrolysing water to produce hydrogen and oxygen is hardly rocket science, and if your electrode is producing oxygen from the water, then you're also producing hydrogen; you can't produce oxygen from the water without producing hydrogen, since you're splitting the oxygen from the hydrogen in the water. Equally, I don't see what relevance it has to photosynthesis.

Maybe they've come up with a more efficient method of electrolysis, but it's far from clear from the article.

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Maybe they've come up with a more efficient method of electrolysis...

That's my reading of it, and that they're spinning the process of a means of storing renewable energy when combined with solar panels or windmills.

As with all these 'miracle' renewable energy discoveries, my gut feeling is that none of them will provide the magic bullet, but that they'll all end up being pieces of a future energy supply jigsaw.

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Nothing new here , all it is saying instead of charge batteries or run something off solar directly you use it to electrolyse water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen....

hardly revolutionary since in 1992 in high school we did this using a battery, and a balloon (which was ignited).

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Guest absolutezero
That's my reading of it, and that they're spinning the process of a means of storing renewable energy when combined with solar panels or windmills.

As with all these 'miracle' renewable energy discoveries, my gut feeling is that none of them will provide the magic bullet, but that they'll all end up being pieces of a future energy supply jigsaw.

I agree with the jigsaw comment.

Like all these green things this is another non starter.

They're using platinum electrodes. Platinum's rather rare.... There might not be enough to go round to make enough of these things to keep us in the western way of life to which we are accustomed.

Put it another way. I'm not holding my breath.

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I agree with the jigsaw comment.

Like all these green things this is another non starter.

They're using platinum electrodes. Platinum's rather rare.... There might not be enough to go round to make enough of these things to keep us in the western way of life to which we are accustomed.

Put it another way. I'm not holding my breath.

There's enough platinum to put some in every car in the world. 70% of it ends up on the road.

Looking at the video he's talking about catalysis. I expect the discovery relates to essentially getting more bang for your buck during electrolysis meaning you get more gas per unit of sunlight.

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ohh you'r a cynical bunch. The breakthrough has nothing to do with hydrogen - the problem has been finding an efficient and effective catalyst for the oxygen.

This podcast with Nocera discusses his findings in greater detail.

He also says his team will announce an alternative to the titanium catalyst within "the next few months".

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Is it possible to recycle the platinum from catalytic converters in car exhausts?

Yeah, a lot of it is recovered. It's not particularly difficult.

However, it's a lesser known fact is that the concentration of Pt found in the dust you'd sweep up on a road is greater than that found in many mines because a lot of the metal is actually blown off the converter. This source is now actively being pursued and there is at least one start-up company that sees this as a viable source.

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So effectively they are talking about those Iridium brand type spark plugs, a spark plug for my bike costs £3 or 4 for £10,

cost £20 each Iridium brand, but they don't get carbon fouled and apparently last forever.

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Interesting. So presumably, as road vehicle technology gradually moves from petrol engines to biofuel, hydrogen and/or electric, the platinum being recycled out of used cats won't need to be put back into new ones and will be available to do other things with (e.g. this new electrolysis system).

On the 'last forever' spark plugs issue, one thing makes me reluctant to go down that road. If the plug casing gets rusted into its thread and the ceramic core parts company with it while you're trying to unscrew it, you're fooked - the cylinder head has to come off. This happened to my neighbour, though fortunately it was the garage that did it. They tried to charge her for a head job (of the strictly mechanical variety!) claiming that the previous set of plugs must have been fitted incorrectly. When she showed them a receipt stating that the previous set of plugs had been fitted by the same chain of main dealer garages, they backed down and ate the cost. Ever since that I've always replaced my plugs annually, even though Ford say they only need to be changed every 40k miles. I also smear a little copper grease into the threads before screwing them in. I figure that £15 a year is a small price to pay to insure against a plug disintegrating in situ.

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If the plug casing gets rusted into its thread and the ceramic core parts company with it while you're trying to unscrew it, you're fooked - the cylinder head has to come off.

doesn't happen with motorbikes as most motorbike engines are made from alloy and don't rust , and you can fish things out of the cylinders with magnetic pickup tools.

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  • 395 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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