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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid