Nanosheet catalyst discovered to sustainably split hydrogen from water

May 10, 2012
This magnified image from a transmission electron microscope reveals details of the unexpected nanosheet structure of the nickel-molybdenum-nitride catalyst, seen here as dark, straight lines.

(Phys.org) -- Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential, either by releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or requiring rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials. The novel form of catalytic nickel-molybdenum-nitride – described in a paper published online May 8, 2012 in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition – surprised scientists with its high-performing nanosheet structure, introducing a new model for effective hydrogen catalysis.

“We wanted to design an optimal catalyst with high activity and low costs that could generate hydrogen as a high-density, clean energy source,” said Brookhaven Lab chemist Kotaro Sasaki, who first conceived the idea for this research. “We discovered this exciting compound that actually outperformed our expectations.”

Goldilocks chemistry

Water provides an ideal source of pure hydrogen – abundant and free of harmful greenhouse gas byproducts. The electrolysis of water, or splitting water (H2O) into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2), requires external electricity and an efficient catalyst to break chemical bonds while shifting around protons and electrons. To justify the effort, the amount of energy put into the reaction must be as small as possible while still exceeding the minimum required by thermodynamics, a figure associated with what is called overpotential.

For a catalyst to facilitate an efficient reaction, it must combine high durability, high catalytic activity, and high surface area. The strength of an element’s bond to hydrogen determines its reaction level – too weak, and there’s no activity; too strong, and the initial activity poisons the catalyst.

“We needed to create high, stable activity by combining one non-noble element that binds hydrogen too weakly with another that binds too strongly,” said James Muckerman, the senior chemist who led the project. “The result becomes this well-balanced Goldilocks compound – just right.”

Unfortunately, the strongest traditional candidate for an electrocatlytic Goldilocks comes with a prohibitive price tag.

Problems with platinum

is the gold standard for electrocatalysis, combining low overpotential with high activity for the chemical reactions in water-splitting. But with rapidly rising costs – already hovering around $50,000 per kilogram – platinum and other noble metals discourage widespread investment.

“People love platinum, but the limited global supply not only drives up price, but casts doubts on its long-term viability,” Muckerman said. “There may not be enough of it to support a global hydrogen economy.”

In contrast, the principal metals in the new compound developed by the Brookhaven team are both abundant and cheap: $20 per kilogram for nickel and $32 per kilogram for molybdenum. Combined, that’s 1000 times less expensive than platinum. But with energy sources, performance is often a more important consideration than price.

Turning nickel into platinum

In this new catalyst, nickel takes the reactive place of platinum, but it lacks a comparable electron density. The scientists needed to identify complementary elements to make nickel a viable substitute, and they introduced metallic molybdenum to enhance its reactivity. While effective, it still couldn’t match the performance levels of platinum.

“We needed to introduce another element to alter the electronic states of the nickel-molybdenum, and we knew that nitrogen had been used for bulk materials, or objects larger than one micrometer,” said research associate Wei-Fu Chen, the paper’s lead author. “But this was difficult for nanoscale materials, with dimensions measuring billionths of a meter.”

The scientists expected the applied nitrogen to modify the structure of the nickel-molybdenum, producing discrete, sphere-like nanoparticles. But they discovered something else.

Subjecting the compound to a high-temperature ammonia environment infused the nickel-molybdenum with nitrogen, but it also transformed the particles into unexpected two-dimensional nanosheets. The nanosheet structures offer highly accessible reactive sites – consider the surface area difference between bed sheets laid out flat and those crumpled up into balls – and therefore more reaction potential.

Using a high-resolution transmission microscope in Brookhaven Lab’s Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, as well as x-ray probes at the National Synchrotron Light Source, the scientists determined the material’s 2D structure and probed its local electronic configurations.

“Despite the fact that metal nitrides have been extensively used, this is the first example of one forming a nanosheet,” Chen said. “Nitrogen made a huge difference – it expanded the lattice of nickel-molybdenum, increased its electron density, made an electronic structure approaching that of noble metals, and prevented corrosion.”

Hydrogen future

The new catalyst performs nearly as well as platinum, achieving electrocatalytic activity and stability unmatched by any other non-noble metal compounds. “The production process is both simple and scalable,” Muckerman said, “making nickel-molybdenum-nitride appropriate for wide industrial applications.”

While this catalyst does not represent a complete solution to the challenge of creating affordable hydrogen gas, it does offer a major reduction in the cost of essential equipment. The team emphasized that the breakthrough emerged through fundamental exploration, which allowed for the surprising discovery of the nanosheet structure.

“Brookhaven Lab has a very active fuel cell and electrocatalysis group,” Muckerman said. “We needed to figure out fundamental approaches that could potentially be game-changing, and that’s the spirit in which we’re doing this work. It’s about coming up with a new paradigm that will guide future research.”

Additional collaborators on this research were: Anatoly Frenkel of Yeshiva University, Nebojsa Marinkovic of the University of Delaware, and Chao Ma, Yimei Zhu and Radoslav Adzic of Brookhaven Lab.

Explore further: Research pair devise a way to make nylon precursor that is less harmful to the ozone layer

More information: Scientific Paper: “Hydrogen-Evolution Catalysts Based on Non-Nobel Metal Nickel–Molybdenum Nitride Nanosheets

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antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (2) May 10, 2012
We really need a modeling tool that takes into account structure as well as composition of new materials (there are modeling tools for either but none that combine the two, AFAIK). Chemical properties of catalysts (and anything else) are mainly determined by the 'shape' of the outer electron layer (orbital electron distribution).

When we know that somthing - like platinum - works well as a catalyst then trying to configure a different mix of chemicals AND their structure to mimick that electron configuration should lead to similar behavior.

(Within reason. Molecular bonds may still play hob with this by providing a similar electron cloud but e.g. not being stable enough under the temperature/pressure/pH conditions of the catalytic action to keep the molecule in one piece).
port_physorg
not rated yet May 10, 2012
There are DFT (and many others but these are the most common) calculations which determine the electronic distribution in the resulting orbitals for a given combination of elements.
I do not know if they can be used for 2-dimensional formations since they are kind of a in-between thing of bulk and molecular form. Downside of quamtumchemics is the huge amount of processing power required..
Mike_Massen
1.5 / 5 (8) May 10, 2012
Unless you can produce the Hydrogen exactly where you need it then, even if the Hydrogen was free - it would be too expensive to use.

The world is already very well geared up for liquid fuels, producing diesel from altered yeast works, producing ethanol and other alcohols also works, the next step is so obvious - focus on efficiencies and the economies of scale which also minimise greenhouse gases and we can finally reach an equilibrium that is sustainable and at potentially manageable costs within existing main infrastructure.
TrinityComplex
not rated yet May 10, 2012
We're pretty well geared for gasses too, most houses are plumbed for it. Different materials might have to be used for hydrogen piping, and storage still needs work, but if it could be produced cheaply and on-demand there's not much reason it couldn't be treated as just another utility in homes. Only a small amount would need to be stored at the production location. When the stored amount falls below a certain threshold automated production could kick on to replenish or meet demand, like automated air compressors when pressure falls to low. Can't say that this will ever be practical, but articles like this show promise.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet May 10, 2012
The world is already very well geared up for liquid fuels,

The world was already geared for hydrogen at one time. About 1900 (yes, more than 100 years ago) towns in Great Britaion had 'town gas' piped in for lighting and heating...which was mainly hydrogen and methane produced from coal gasification.

Unless you can produce the Hydrogen exactly where you need it then, even if the Hydrogen was free - it would be too expensive to use.

Hydrogen is pretty easy to produce (i.e. it takes very little in terms of tech), so a 'household hydrogen production system' is not unrealistic. Would have the additional advantage that highly variable energy sources could be automatically turned into hydrogen whenever an excess is available and the electricity is cheap.
Terriva
1.6 / 5 (7) May 10, 2012
Hydrogen economy is silly hoax and we can read about it even here at PhysOrg. Isn't it symptomatic, just the proponents of math here cannot do any economical calculation of its feasibility?
TrinityComplex
not rated yet May 10, 2012
Terriva, I'm not discounting the research, but that article is six years old. Producing hydrogen is becoming more energy efficient, and who knows how much better it will get. A large portion of the argument is storage and transportation, but if it doesn't need to be stored, but instead produced on-demand, and can be piped directly to the application, that reduces or eliminates that issue. The arguments have merit, and the specifics should be circulated to make people think about it, but I have a hard time staying married to research that based itself on technologies and ideas of the time, rather than advents that occurred more recently. At the same time, I appreciate Bossel's push to improve battery technology.
Terriva
1 / 5 (10) May 10, 2012
The cold fusion will wipe all these costly attempts for hydrogen economy (which is actually why its research remains ignored for years even with hard-core environmentalists) - because it will enable us to have the Terminator-like batteries everywhere. Who will ask for some artificial leafs, after then? We could make the place for plants with natural leafs, after then.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.5 / 5 (8) May 10, 2012
What a shame Martini and Rossi's E-cat device turned out to be a prolonged fraud.

"The cold fusion will wipe all these costly attempts for hydrogen economy" - Terriva

Urgelt
4.5 / 5 (2) May 10, 2012
"...but if it doesn't need to be stored, but instead produced on-demand, and can be piped directly to the application," wrote TrinityComplex.

Um. If you have an energy source close by and are ready to use the energy right now, you don't need to convert it to hydrogen. It's an unnecessary step.

The *only* value of hydrogen (from an energy perspective) is as a transfer medium with a time gap between energy production and consumption. But since it's so confoundingly energy-expensive to pressurize hydrogen into a manageable volume, and since materials to prevent losses are also an unsolved problem, the "hydrogen economy" remains a pipe dream.
robbor
1 / 5 (4) May 11, 2012
now that atoms are being manipulated with precision, is it not possible to construct platinum?
Sanescience
5 / 5 (3) May 11, 2012
Hydrogen is devilish stuff. Regardless of efficiency issues of production (better to displace power from coal burning than to use electricity to crack water) it requires a lot of materials to manage it and store it. Cars have to lug around a lot of weight to use it. Nature has done very well using hydrogen by keeping a handle on it with carbon. Why people want to use something so unnatural as molecular hydrogen to store and transport energy is very strange.
Mike_Massen
1.8 / 5 (5) May 11, 2012
For all in favour of using hydrogen as a (terrestrial) fuel & especially if they think it was ever wise to transport it then *please* do a thermodynamic analysis, even if its free it is too expensive to use !

H2 energy density is woefully low.
H2 production is woefully inefficient.
H2 is sticky stuff, even minor leaks make it dangerous.
H2 combustion happens too easily, ie static

If any system ever has excess energy then it is (so far) always best to use the energy in that form for something else, such as heating water Eg. Steam pipes across New York. If you ever have electricity then use it for extracting aluminium or any other plating function, better still processing catalysts that can turn gases into liquid fuels or for purifying water etc.

Sanescience demonstrates good thinking with his observation...

Nature has been trying permutations for millennia regarding energy systems management & distribution, tying hydrogen to carbon is thermodynamically much more useful.
Origin
1.7 / 5 (6) May 11, 2012
What a shame Martini and Rossi's E-cat device turned out to be a prolonged fraud.
Who is Martini? You even don't know, what are you talking about. This is a crystalline example of ignorance, which helped the mainstream physics to ignore cold fusion for twenty years. The people like you who are spreading unsubstantiated calumnies are responsible for this situation too.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) May 11, 2012
Yes it is possible to construct platinum, the only problem is that you need to use 100,000 tonnes of cheese whiz and 50 gallons of buffalo semen to produce a single ounce.

http://upload.wik...Whiz.jpg

The Cheese Whiz is easily found in any American Store but since buffalo are almost extinct getting 50 gallons of buffalo semen is the difficult part.

"now that atoms are being manipulated with precision, is it not possible to construct platinum?" - robbor
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (4) May 11, 2012
"Who is Martini?" - Origin

http://en.wikiped...26_Rossi

Italians who became famous for their Cold Fusion of Vermouth and Sparkling Wine.
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2012
If you have an energy source close by and are ready to use the energy right now, you don't need to convert it to hydrogen.

The point would be to use it to even out short term fluctuations. times where demand on the grid doesn't equal supply. So the amount of storage you'd need - even if you were to use this per block and not per household - would be rather low.

But since it's so confoundingly energy-expensive to pressurize hydrogen
Then don't pressurize it. There are a vast number of ways to store hydrogen. Pressurization is just one of them.
http://en.wikiped...storage.
Origin
2 / 5 (3) May 11, 2012
. There are a vast number of ways to store hydrogen.
These ways are even more expensive, than the pressurization. You're like silly kid, who never understand the economy. This stance is typical for scientists, who are payed from mandatory fees, so they don't care about cost of solutions, which they're researching.

The cheapest way of hydrogen transportation and storage is actually based on hydrocarbons, i.e. the way, which is compatible with existing cars and which is widely used already. Everything else is just job and salary generation for parasites involved in the research of alternative methods of hydrogen storage.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2012
H2 energy density is woefully low.

Since you'd not be storing a year's worth (as with oil) this is not a problem.
H2 production is woefully inefficient.

Still better than compared to hydrocarbons. Burning them is much more inefficient (and ecologically untenable. So it wouldn't even matter if they were uber-efficient)
H2 is sticky stuff, even minor leaks make it dangerous.

H2 is flammable over a much wider range but lighter than air. It escapes upward when leaked. Gasoline vapors are denser than air. It remain dangerous pretty much indefinitely until actively dispersed.

H2 combustion happens too easily, ie static

Here's a comparison what happens when you puncture and ignite a gasoline car and a hydrogen car. Which one would you rather be sitting in?
http://www.fuelce...-station
Pkunk_
2.7 / 5 (3) May 11, 2012
Moving on from the usual Hydrogen vs Hydrocarbon catfight , with the cold fusion nutcases thrown in.

This is a fantastic discovery. A 2d catalyst .. It sounds like something as big as Graphene for the catalyst world.
Combine with a nuclear plant for input energy and a high efficiency catalyst like this and you have a perfect non-Carbon almost limitless energy source to finally get the Hydrogen economy moving.

Lighter than air ships anyone ?
Origin
1.8 / 5 (5) May 11, 2012
Here's a comparison what happens when you puncture and ignite a gasoline car and a hydrogen car.
It was just a tiny leakage. The hydrogen in cars is stored at the pressure of 350 - 700 bar. This is what happens with pressurized gas bottle in the fire. http://www.youtub...pz41wSOg

Not only your car or garage, but whole your house or maybe quarter would be devastated at the case of such explosion. Nobody of firemen would fight with fire in your house, if it would contain the hydrogen fuelled car in the garage.
Origin
1 / 5 (2) May 11, 2012
This is how the explosion of hydrogen bottle installed in the vehicle really looks like.

http://www.swri.o...haz3.jpg
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2012
As I said: don't use pressurized storage. Use metal hydrides or glas capillaries or whatever else is available (see the link I posted earlier). The pictures were just to show that the fear of hydrogen gas is purely irrational. It has been used in houses 100 yers ago. Safely. No reason to believe that we cannot do so now.

his is what happens with pressurized gas bottle in the fire

Yeah, you can blow up a gas pipleine. What else is new? Every flamable gas can be made to combust (that's the POINT)
yoatmon
not rated yet May 11, 2012
For all in favour of using hydrogen as a (terrestrial) fuel & especially if they think it was ever wise to transport it then *please* do a thermodynamic analysis, even if its free it is too expensive to use !

H2 energy density is woefully low.
" production is woefully inefficient.
" is sticky stuff, even minor leaks make it dangerous.
" combustion happens too easily, ie static


Apparently, you didn't major in chemistry. H2 energy density is higher than that of any liquid fossil fuel. Production efficiency of H2 is improving almost daily and it's not more dangerous than any other fossil fuel (rather on the contrary). Combustion in a FC is completely harmless.
Ever hear of ionic compression? E.g.:
http://www.greenc...-us.html
Despite your strange attitude towards improvements, progress and independence from foreign dependencies, you can be assured that changes will occur (like it or not).
TrinityComplex
not rated yet May 11, 2012
Urgelt, none of my speculation was intended to portray a 'let's do it RIGHT NOW' attitude, but a potential based on the trend in changing technology, and the previous statement of 'even if it was free'. Well, if the production of hydrogen was cheap, or even free, it could potentially replace natural gas in the home for heating and cooking, as natural gas is used for now. If a good way is invented to run a vehicle on hydrogen that is more energy dense than the current battery technology, and a good method of in-vehicle storage is devised, they could be fueled up at home, just as electric vehicles are charged. Yes, this is all speculation, which is what this entire debate is based on, or arguing over. Some people are saying 'you can't do that right now' to people who are simply saying 'we might be able to do this in the future'. This is how ideas and inventions are born, and the attempt and quashing the creativity seems rather counterproductive.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
hydrogen makes metal brittle over time. makes storage expensive.
hydrogen is not dense enough to be viable in vehicles ( and dangerous when it explodes).
Maybe it can be used at tank stations where they combust hydrogen on site to charge a battery. would be more cost effective.
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
it could potentially replace natural gas in the home for heating and cooking
I seriously doubt it, because the hydrogen has a number disadvantages for it. For example, it's small molecules are able to escape trough every tiny holes. The gas pipes should be a much tighter, than it's required by now. The hydrogen is forming the explosive mixtures with air in much wide range and these explosions are way more energetic. Yo don't like the way, in which your gas boiler puffs after each ignition? Well, if it would use a hydrogen, it would make pretty bang instead.
you didn't major in chemistry. H2 energy density is higher than that of any liquid fossil fuel.
But you're apparently majored in demagogy and manipulation with facts. The energy density of hydrogen is really higher, than the energy density of any LIQUID fossil fuel - but only when mass is taken into account. Due it extremely low density the energy density of hydrogen per volume is way lower instead.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet May 11, 2012
hydrogen makes metal brittle over time

Graphene seems to be a silver bullet for this. A single layer of graphene seems to be enough to prevent hydrogen embrittlement of a metallic containment vessle. (Other approaches use graphene layers to store the hydrogen directly - but I don't think we're there yet to produce this stuff in such quantities)
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
don't use pressurized storage. Use metal hydrides or glass capillaries or whatever else is available
This is all very expensive. The price of lanthanum hydride per volume is ten thousands-times higher, than the price of the same volume of metallic canyster. Even after then, the energy density of this hydrogen storage is way lower, than the same volume of gasoline.
your strange attitude towards improvements, progress and independence from foreign dependencies, you can be assured that changes will occur
The progress is, if you make a technology more cheaper and sustainable. But at the moment, when most of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, then the hydrogen energetics would increase the consumption of fossil fuels and dependence to import instead. The proponents of mainstream physics are apparently motivated with vision of new job places in research of hydrogen energetics - not with its actual contribution to the rest of people. Which is selfish, irresponsible and bad.
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
Graphene seems to be a silver bullet for this. A single layer of graphene seems to be enough to prevent hydrogen embrittlement of a metallic containment vessle.
Only in millimeter sized samples. To prepare larger compact layer of graphene you'll need a way better technology - and way cheaper, too. In addition, the cold fusion will move all these fantasies into oblivion fast. This is the real progress, not some shitty hydrogen. The future of energetics is not at the chemistry and principle of burning fuels, which is thousands years old already.
djr
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
"hydrogen is not dense enough to be viable in vehicles" Which makes you wonder why all the major car companies have H2 programs in development. Maybe they know something you don't know. Maybe instead of being negative about one of the most exciting possibilities in terms of our energy future - you could spend some time reading up on what is happening in the world. Here - I will give you a head start - an article about the European hydrogen highway program. I don't know what we will be driving 50 yrs from now - but I do believe it is highly possible that H2 vehicles will be part of the mix. http://green.auto...cross-e/
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
Which makes you wonder why all the major car companies have H2 programs in development.
A PR? Applied research? Governmental subsidizes of "green energy"?
djr
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2012
A PR? Applied research? Governmental subsidizes of "green energy"?
Would you even consider that maybe their armies of engineers know a little more about the subject than you do? - and maybe they understand that H2 will some day be viable in vehicles. Did you read the article? Do you understand that without taking risks - our progess is so much slower - perhaps it is a risk for Hyundai to launch their FCV vehicle as soon as 2013 - but I admire their willingness to take a risk - you on the other hand seem one of the millions who cannot see past today.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
I am sorry but all the tech required to keep H2 pressurized("safely"), produced, relocated, combusted etc. etc.

Is not very cost effective, and scientists didnt know exactly the effects of hydrogen on metal over periods of time until a few years ago. Its a great research projects but with todays economics and tech it is to costly. Dont forget to mention the security hazards of exploding vehicles intentionally or unintentionally.

We will see algae farms and other techniques which are cheap and effective in creating a carbon neutral cycle way before H2 vehicles becoming viable, and after that there is just no reason for an H2 "economy".

Also as far as i know the hydrogen highway project uses electric vehicles and uses hydrogen on the tanking sites the charge the vehicles if i remember correctly, please correct me if i am wrong.
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
The hydrogen fuel energetics would only get some sense, if we would switch to the nuclear energetics as a primary source of energy. Because hydrogen doesn't exist in nature in free state and it must be manufactured in the same way, like every other chemical product. Which consumes lotta energy, which could be utilized more effectively otherwise. IMO this facts are so clear, that I cannot understand, why some proponents of hydrogen energetics still exists.
Now, when it turns out more and more clearly, that the cold fusion is viable source of energy of virtually unlimited potential, the hydrogen energetics has no thinkable reason to exists (with exceptions of few very specialized applications). From this moment the hydrogen dreams did become just a drain of money, which could be utilized in cold fusion research more effectively in many orders of magnitude. We are just losing our precious time with it.
NMvoiceofreason
1 / 5 (4) May 12, 2012
Unless you can produce the Hydrogen exactly where you need it then, even if the Hydrogen was free - it would be too expensive to use.

The world is already very well geared up for liquid fuels, producing diesel from altered yeast works, producing ethanol and other alcohols also works, the next step is so obvious - focus on efficiencies and the economies of scale which also minimise greenhouse gases and we can finally reach an equilibrium that is sustainable and at potentially manageable costs within existing main infrastructure.


We already have a liquid fuel - it is called water. Suprisingly, it consists of no greenhouse gases at all. Fuel cell technology is well known. Pair the catalyst with a tank of water and a fuel cell and you can produce power. The question is efficiency. This is a step in the right direction for the production of energy from water.
Terriva
1 / 5 (2) May 12, 2012
Pair the catalyst with a tank of water and a fuel cell and you can produce power. The question is efficiency.
The question is the exothermic nature of water, i.e. the thermodynamics. You apparently missed the whole principle of fuel cells. How is it possible, the people, who are able to write such a nonsense are still allowed to vote?
djr
5 / 5 (2) May 12, 2012
"How is it possible, the people, who are able to write such a nonsense are still allowed to vote?" The pot calling the kettle black. You were the one who stated that hydrogen would never be a viable fuel for vehicles. You are wrong. Do some quick math. The efficiency of electrolysis of water - about 70%. http://en.wikiped...ficiency The efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell 40 - 60% http://en.wikiped...uel_cell This is already makes fuel cells potentially viable. If using catalysts we can improve these numbers (that is what this whole article is about) there is definitely a good possibility that fuel cell cars are a part of our future. Storage issues are being worked on as we speak. How is it you are so sold on cold fusion (I am open to that possibility) and so blind to other possibilities?
djr
not rated yet May 12, 2012
"The question is the exothermic nature of water" Not having a good understanding of this term - I tried to look it up. It seems to me that your statement is totally bogus. Water is neither exorthermic or endothermic - it depends on the process. Solid to liquid, or liquid to gas is endothermic (absorbs energy), but the opposite is exothermic (releases energy. http://voices.yah...226.html This seems to be off the point in terms of understanding that a fuel cell can generate electricity from hydrogen - at around 40-60% efficiency (80% if you can harvest the heat generated) http://en.wikiped...uel_cell
Mike_Massen
1.4 / 5 (7) May 12, 2012
yoatmon showed bad thinking & immaturity attacking a participant
Apparently, you didn't major in chemistry.
Unless otherwise stated, posting is at STP. Chemists know this from high school. Obviously yoatmon is wrong to claim
H2 energy density is higher than that of any liquid fossil fuel.
at STP & couldn't state the temperature & pressure. yoatman continued imprecise rambling
Production efficiency of H2 is improving almost daily and it's not more dangerous than any other fossil fuel (rather on the contrary).
H2 is one of the few gases that can self ignite from static generated by release, it's electro-statically 'sticky' & can linger without odour. yoatman made a further (tangential) attack with
Despite your strange attitude towards improvements..
Link offered indicates H2 compression is still required.

Liquid fuel has far better utility value. Diesel can now be produced from yeast. Waste of energy to make H2 for fuel, even if free from water !
Mike_Massen
1.4 / 5 (7) May 12, 2012
djr demonstrated ignorance of politics, accountancy & engineering focus
..Which makes you wonder why all the major car companies have H2 programs in development.
It's simple: politics flavoured by subsidies, grants, pump priming etc.

djr offered useless link, no costs & postings by electric vehicle proponents indicating power grids are far more prevalent & convenient.

I predict H2 will not be part 'of the mix' at all !

The best so far is electric, with likely hybridisation of liquid fuels (possibly with fuel cells) from sustainable sources such as diesel/oxygenated hydrocarbons from micro-organisms.

To switch to H2 with *all* it entails is more difficult re 'net present costing', makes no overall thermodynamic sense.

Even if electrolysis of water had 100% efficiency & cost of infrastructure free, then H2 would still be too expensive. Electricity is best used for much greater value elsewhere.

The GM/biological fuels & with battery advances are much more practical & likely.
k_m
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
We already have a liquid fuel - it is called water. Suprisingly, it consists of no greenhouse gases at all.
No greenhouse gas? Okay, maybe if the hydrogen isn't combusted and the byproduct released into the atmosphere.
H2O vapor is the most GHG potent, no?

Fuel cell technology is well known. Pair the catalyst with a tank of water and a fuel cell and you can produce power. The question is efficiency. This is a step in the right direction for the production of energy from water.

Wouldn't it be more efficient to use the energy from fuel cell directly?
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
The world was already geared for hydrogen at one time. About 1900 (yes, more than 100 years ago) towns in Great Britaion had 'town gas' piped in for lighting and heating...which was mainly hydrogen and methane produced from coal gasification.


Although you forget that 100 years ago there were four times less people, and much less use for gas. It was used primarily for lighting, and for small stationary engines on the scale of 100 HP that ran small factories. And even then not all people had gas in their house. Only those fortunate enough to live near a gasworks, who could afford it.

Town gas became problematic when it had to scale up to meet the demands on new applications and more users.

Besides, production of H2 catalytically requires clean water, contrary to town gas which utilized thermal decomposition by spraying steam over hot coals. The cost of desalinating and purifying water for hydrogen production is astronomical, unless you tap into the ground water supply.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (2) May 12, 2012
Although Eikka made good points he made a leap of faith, ie. a guess
..utilized thermal decomposition by spraying steam over hot coals.
No.
You need temperatures around 2500 deg C to disassociate water in useful quantities for H2, not likely to happen with coal however, metals in coal can catalyse out some H2, heating coal in absence of O2 will produce gases including H2 but mostly CO and CH4 & other volatiles Eg, alcohols and phenols. Town gas wasn't considered safe for industry but, interestingly with little other issues to distract personal consumers at the time, there was some considerable measure of adaptability & quickly so to the cheap lighting offered.

The main problem seems to be lack of contemporary education in issues such as thermodynamic analyses, nature has been doing this for millennia & tying H2 to C makes a great deal of energy sense, though nature favours a solid (sugar) we benefit from the various hydrocarbon liquid derivatives in existing infrastructure...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
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Although you forget that 100 years ago there were four times less people, and much less use for gas. It was used primarily for lighting, and for small stationary engines on the scale of 100 HP that ran small factories.
The point is that they managed it back then without blowing themselves to bits. On city scales and a city densities of people living together. So I think this attirtude of "hydrogen is too dangerous and can't be handled so we need to go hydrocarbon" is not merited in the least.

There are valid arguments against hydrogen: but safety or feasibility aspects are not some of them.

The cost of desalinating and purifying water for hydrogen production is astronomical,

Only if you aren't using 'free' energy (i.e. energy that you are generating in surplus at some times, anyways. Like wind, wave and solar - which you need to overscale so as to meet demand when production per powertplant is low)

Currently that energy is just being dumped.
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2012
The efficiency of electrolysis of water - about 70%. http://en.wikiped...ficiency The efficiency of a hydrogen fuel cell 40 - 60%
Maybe you forget something - the effectiveness of electrical energy production: 40%. The total energy efficiency = 0.7 x 0.5 x 0.4 = 0.14 i.e. 14%. Efficiency of gas engine is definitely higher (35 - 40%) and you're not required to handle hydrogen pressurized to 300 - 700 bar.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2012
now that atoms are being manipulated with precision, is it not possible to construct platinum?

Do you somehow not understand that platinum is an atomic element?
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 13, 2012
is it not possible to construct platinum
Aluminium clusters of 13, 23 and 37 atoms can mimic the alkaline-earth elements. The tunstgen carbide can behave like the platinum in certain extent, because the energy for removal of electrons from its surface is similar to platinum. This is so-called the superatom chemistry. Unfortunately, this similarity manifests rather with photospectroscopic data, rather than with real chemical properties. You need to prepare material with large surface area (nanoclusters, nanosheets) for to get this similarity well pronounced.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) May 13, 2012
Storing hydrogen on-site as hydrocarbons makes much sense as long as you get the carbons from the air it will be carbon-neutral.
You can burn it to charge the battery of your car.
Much better would be to charge your battery directly instead of having an extra step(smart grid), but has the danger of burning battery cycles.

But a hydrogen "economy" or hydrogen cars, please no.
TheQuietMan
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2012
They mentioned efficiency, that is the real number. Storage and use of hydrogen is not a problem, never has been. The cost of creating it is the real cost, H2 is only a storage mechanism, unlike gasoline.

As for creating platinum, it is an element, same as gold. The cost for "creating" each requires a collider and particle physics, and is NOT economical.
Irukanji
not rated yet May 13, 2012
Nickel is frequently used to replace platinum catalysts in organic chem anyway, so it isn't really surprising...plus most platinum(from memory) comes as a by-product of nickel refinement.
Sonhouse
not rated yet May 13, 2012
I don't think H2 as a kitchen cooking gas is such a good idea for the simple reason you cannot see the flame so how do you know if it is on high or low? You can only use the flame adjusting knob and if it is not right, then what?

I know from what I speak, at one of Bell Labs buildings, I was present when a scientist tried to hook up a spectrum analyzer to a hydrogen line, making the mistake of not using stainless steel tubing, instead using polyflow plastic tubing. The tubing came out of its little spigot and ignited, totally invisible flame coming out and burned his hand pretty badly before he could get control of the polyflow which was whipping around like a snake burning whatever came close to the end, all the while the burning was completely invisible. I know, I was there and watched the whole thing. He got control of the tubing inside of a couple of seconds, way faster than I could have even run in to help but he was burned on his hand, face, and scalp in the process.

Sonhouse
not rated yet May 13, 2012
Which is not to say I am against an H2 economy. If it can be done economically, why not? The combustion product is water not unburned hydrocarbons and CO and CO2. Like the guy said, use metal hydrides or some variation to store H2 at one atmosphere pressure, which is getting more dense energy-wise every year. We already have an infrastructure in place for liquids but those liquids are transported by truck in tanks, so the tanks can just as easily be H2 in some one atmosphere pressure system, using a bit of heat to release the H2. New catalytic converters are being invented every week so it seems to me a viable path to getting off the tit of oil.
ursid
not rated yet May 13, 2012
I wonder if insights from origami could be used to create folded versions of these sheets, so as to pack even more reactive surface area into a given volume? Might it be possible to combine a cracking and gas-storage apparatus based on this technology with solar panels to enable economical production of hydrogen as a "battery" for night-time or gloomy-day power generation, along with direct electricity usage during the day, producing an energy-independent building? Do the relevant physics calculations work out?
TrinityComplex
not rated yet May 14, 2012
Sonhouse, in a lab I attended in school there was a demonstration of the invisible hydrogen flame, but they had another burner set up that had a copper or steel filament (can't remember which) that was in the path of the flame, which made it visible. That, at least, would be an easy and cheap solution.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2012
except water is a greenhouse gas.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (1) May 22, 2012
kaasinees got confused, np, can happen often when people get older
except water is a greenhouse gas.
I drink water, its nice, its not a greenhouse gas. What I do afterwards I wont go into though ;-)

Water vapour however can be a greenhouse gas but it depends on distribution and altitude. Water vapour generated near ground level from urban areas such as from cars and people mostly returns as dew or rain sometimes thousands of miles along the weather front.

The average amount of water vapour that is rather more causal regarding the greenhouse effect hasnt changed significantly at the altitudes that are important.

Hydrogen leaking from the vast number of fittings and fill accidents etc Is more potent as it reaches higher altitudes far more quickly...

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