'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

DapdanDapdan Solar Expert Posts: 313 ✭✭
Hi all,

this seem pretty exciting. a new type of catalyst to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water using existing pv tech. The catalyst is apparently cheaper that the current one that is used to do this (platinum) and is readily abudant in nature check this site for more details...

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html

Cheers...
Damani

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,699 admin
    Re: 'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

    Apparently, still need the $$$$ catalyst for the "hydrogen" electrode (low cost electrode material only works on the "oxygen" electrode?):
    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.

    Also, the article says nothing about overall system efficiency... Typical Electrolysis of water and back to electricity is typically around 30-45% efficient.

    A simple lead-acid battery is around 80-90% efficient at storing power (plus some losses for charge controller and AC inverter--still way above 30-45% efficient even today).

    And that does not even take into account the energy required to store the hydrogen/oxygen under pressure (if required).

    May be interesting--but I don't think that this is a huge break through at this time (unless the efficiency numbers are way higher than normal).

    Just my 2 cent guess...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: 'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

    I see a whole lot of hype and not much else. Not to mention that it gawks over the fact that one catalyst produces oxygen while you need another to produce hydrogen.

    Basic chemistry tells me that if you produce oxygen, then hydrogen is also produced. It cannot just disappear. This appears to be nothing more than a slightly more efficient version of electrolysis, which has been around for nearly 200 years.

    Also note the date - mid 2008 - apparently it has not made any waves since then.
  • loreleclorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: 'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

    Using electricity to make hydrogen will always be an extremely inefficient means of energy conversion. Aside from the conversion issue, there are also many difficulties regarding the storage, transportantion, safety, and use of hydrogen that never come up for discussion. When they do, it becomes clear that hydrogen is not a serious contender for any sort of energy revolution, let alone a solar one. I suspect that the MIT researchers have some government grant money burning holes in their pockets. Small-scale demonstrations are one thing, where the novelty of the experiment trumps practicality. Let's see it put into use in the real world.

    Marc
  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: 'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

    United Nuclear used to have a pic on their site of their hydrogen generator running off a solar panel. The pic doesn't seem to have made it over to their new site. Though they do still have the pic of a good looking woman with a solar panel. (Maybe Windsun could take a tip from them. :))

    http://www.switch2hydrogen.com/

    So the MIT guys have come up with a neat way to split water. Handy. Nasa should love it. All the companies working on hydrogen powered cars should love it.

    Personally, I'm not all that excited about storing rocket fuel in my basement.
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