Monday, January 23, 2006

They're doing WHAT with solar? Makin' hydrogen


Hey 'Dwellers:

The problem with the future "hydrogen" economy has been two-fold: technical/cost problems with the storage, distribution, use of hydrogen in fuel cells, their operation in very cold climates, AND the fact that it takes a lot of energy just to produce the hydrogen in the first place. It's one step forward, one back, if the emissions from a fuel cell car are clean, but it took lots of electricity powered from coal or natural gas to produce that energy.

One elegant solution: use "clean" electricity to produce the hydrogen; i.e., wind and/or sun power! Without further adieu, take a look at the following story from a university that is exploring the idea of using solar panels to produce hydrogen:

Napier University to Produce Hydrogen From Solar Energy
23 January 2006

Provider: Fuel Cell Today

Scientists at Napier University are set to use solar panels at their Merchiston campus to produce hydrogen fuel.
In the first project of its kind in Scotland, Professor Tariq Muneer and his team at the School of Engineering want to use the electricity produced by the solar panels to create hydrogen gas through electrolysis. It involves passing a current of electricity through water to separate hydrogen from oxygen.

The hydrogen gas produced can then be stored under pressure for use later in a fuel cell.

When there is a demand for electrical power, the two gases are passed through the fuel cell and create an electric current. The atoms then recombine and join with the oxygen to become water again. No carbon is produced.

Professor Muneer, director of research at the School of Engineering, said the project would cost around £70,000 and should be working by 2007

--the solarDweller

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