News / Science & Technology

Hydrogen Fuel Closer to Reality

An artist's conception of a commercial hydrogen production plant that uses sunlight to split water in order to produce clean hydrogen fuel. (Image courtesy University of Colorado Boulder)
An artist's conception of a commercial hydrogen production plant that uses sunlight to split water in order to produce clean hydrogen fuel. (Image courtesy University of Colorado Boulder)
VOA News
The dream of using hydrogen as a clean fuel source may be a step closer to reality, according to a new scientific report.

A team of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder say they have developed a system that would use sunlight as an energy source to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The method would use a vast array of mirrors that would concentrate sunlight onto a single point atop a central tower. The temperatures there could rise to as high as 1,350 Celsius. That energy would then be sent to a reactor vessel containing metal oxides, which, when heated, release oxygen atoms, according to the report in the journal Science.

That, in turn, would cause the material to seek out new oxygen atoms. When steam produced from the boiling water in the reactor vessel is added, the oxygen molecules would adhere to the metal oxide, freeing hydrogen molecules to be collected as gas, the report said.

“We have designed something here that is very different from other methods and frankly something that nobody thought was possible before,” said professor Alan Weimer in a statement. He is a member of the team that worked on the project. “Splitting water with sunlight is the Holy Grail of a sustainable hydrogen economy.”

While there are other methods to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, Colorado Boulder scientists say their method is unique because the two chemical reactions can be done at the same temperature.

“The more conventional approaches require the control of both the switching of the temperature in the reactor from a hot to a cool state, and the introduction of steam into the system,” said associate professor Charles Musgrave. “One of the big innovations in our system is that there is no swing in the temperature. The whole process is driven by either turning a steam valve on or off.”

Despite the findings, the commercialization of such a solar-thermal reactor is likely years away.

With the new method, the amount of hydrogen produced for fuel cells or for storage is entirely dependent on the amount of metal oxide -- which is made up of a combination of iron, cobalt, aluminum and oxygen -- and how much steam is introduced into the system.

The research results were published in Friday’s issue of Science.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brian K. Anderson from: Utah
August 07, 2013 1:08 PM
Think of it this way: you could use the hydrogen to power a desalination plant, providing water to people, then collect runoff water from desert cities to make more hydrogen and continue the cycle. It doesn't have to be an either or, at least, not if they can attain the right level of efficiency.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Nakameguro, JPN
August 02, 2013 9:50 PM
There are many people who can not have enough water and die due to lack of water.
On the other hand, we have someone who think water to be used to make hydrogen as energy.
Which one is important as a human, using water for energy or using water to make people alive?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs