Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nanowires help produce hydrogen fuel using sunlight

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/07/20/nanowires-help-produce-hydrogen-fuel-using-sunlight/

Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai at a fuel station

You ideally want to produce clean hydrogen fuel using clean sources, and Dutch researchers have taken a big step toward making that a practical reality. They've built a solar cell that uses a grid of gallium phosphide nanowires to make hydrogen gas from water. The approach gets a useful yield of about 2.9 percent in lab tests. That may not sound like much, but it's about 10 times more effective than previous techniques and uses 10,000 times less exotic material.

It's still going to take more refinements before this kind of technology is practical. Even hooking up silicon cells to a battery nets a 15 percent yield, for example. If scientists improve their methods, though, you could be driving hydrogen cars whose fuel is eco-friendly at every step, not just when it's in your vehicle.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]

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Source: TUE, Nature


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wave generator supplies US electrical grid for the first time

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/07/07/wave-generator-hawaii-power-grid/

A prototype wave generator called Azura is supplying grid power to Hawaii, the first time such a feat has been officially verified, according to the US Department of Energy (DoE). Though it can only produce 20 kilowatts, the DoE said that similar devices could eventually provide large amounts of clean power to coastal cities. The project is co-sponsored by the US Navy and was developed by an Oregon-based company called Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI). It's located at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Site in Kaneohe Bay in Oahu, at a depth of about 30 meters (100 feet).

The prototype consists of a 45-ton wave energy converter that can capture energy from both the heave (up/down) and surge (front/back) motions of waves. It has an onboard generator to convert kinetic motion to electricity, which is transferred to the grid via an undersea cable. The device first went online last month, bringing an unknown quantity of power to Hawaii's electrical grid. Researchers from the University of Hawaii recently confirmed its performance, marking the first time that US cities and homes have officially been powered, in part, by waves.

Following further tests on the current system, the NWEI and DoE plan to ramp things up considerably. They'll use the result from the current trial to design a new generator that will operate in bigger waves at 60-80 meter depths (100-150 feet) and generate up to 1 megawatt, enough energy to power several hundred homes. That system could come online as early as 2017, but meanwhile, researchers will continue testing Azura over the next year.

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Via: Network World

Source: US Department of Energy