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Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

  #1  
Old 07-15-2008, 08:39 AM
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Default Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

From time to time, there are certain articles that appear on the press, that leave me scratching my head.

QuantumSphere Inc. says it has perfected the manufacture of highly reactive catalytic nanoparticle coatings that could up the efficiency of electrolysis, the technique that generates hydrogen from water.</SPAN>
"Instead of switching 170,000 gas stations over to hydrogen, using our electrodes could enable consumers to make their own hydrogen, either in the garage or right on the vehicle,"</SPAN>

http://www.automotivedesignline.com/news/206801713;jsessionid=1P2UU2CFS0PJ0QSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2 JVN


If true, that could be revolutionary. However, no process is 100% efficient, and therefore, the creation of hydrogen from water will always consume more energy than what it produces. So unless the energy for hydrolisis comes from a fully renewable source, fuel cells are a pipe dream.....
 
  #2  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:39 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

Does a process have to be 100% before it is worthwhile? How efficient are batteries (energy output/energy to charge)? Are they 100%?
 
  #3  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:59 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

No, of course not, nothing is 100% efficient or effective.

My point was -and which I did not made clear enough-, is that whether is a plug-in hybrid powered from batteries or a fuel-cell driven one, if said energy came from oil, it would not reduce our oil dependency nor the CO2 emissions.

In other words, all these solutions are part of a larger, integrated solution.

But setting that discussion aside, do you think that the science behind the article is sound? I confess that I'm no chemist, and ignore whether the principles outlined in the article are technically correct or mere B.S. What are your thoughts?
 
  #4  
Old 07-15-2008, 01:23 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

I think they are a legit company and I think the idea has merit. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how well it all works out in the marketplace.

It looks like they are doing something at SemiCon West today.
 
  #5  
Old 07-15-2008, 01:30 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

There is not enough information to tell. My opinions:
  • nanotubes can increase active surface area - a good thing for reducing internal resistance and the active chemical area
  • nanotube endurance in any application is not known until some form of lifetime testing is performed and there was no mention of this in the article
  • anchoring nanotubes is not a trivial task and if they disconnect, they become inert for any practical use
  • the 'percentages' don't make sense, we really need engineering units
I think nanotubes are potentially a great thing but in bulk, it isn't clear these are a real solution or something that requires "a miracle here!"

Bob Wilson
 
  #6  
Old 07-15-2008, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

There was no mention of nanotubes in the article. I guess I'm not sure what you are referring to with the nanotubes. What role are you saying the nanotubes would play? Nanotubes are inert and it is a catalytic surface that is needed.
 

Last edited by Mr. Kite; 07-15-2008 at 01:39 PM.
  #7  
Old 07-15-2008, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

I could be wrong but nanoparticles by themselves just look like a fine material, somewhat porous and this is where the problem comes in. Most of our chemical reactions require ions to move about. A sufficiently fine mesh, especially as the dimensions between the particles gets very small, offers a significant challenge for 'wetting' and getting the chemicals in contact with the surface. Then comes the problem of conducting the electrons to the base electrode.

In contrast, a nanotube, or filliments with a small surface coating provides relatively larger channels to get the electrolytes down and in contact. As for nanotubes being 'inert', I believe it depends upon the material they are made of. Carbon nanotubes, yes, but other nanotube materials could be quite reactive.

Now I'm not an expert in nanotube technologies, just what has been published in the magazines I read. The referenced article was actually more of a news release and there may be something more specific from the company. It won't be the first time that a warmed-over press release left something to be desired.

If I were in an engineering review of their 'announcement', these are the questions I would raise.

Bob Wilson
 
  #8  
Old 07-15-2008, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

I just want to clarify the "breakthroughs" of this company. They have a method for producing extremely small nanoparticles of catalytic metals and they have a method for attaching them to surfaces. With the high surface area materials, you get way more bang for your buck, and catalysts can be extremely expensive.

Originally Posted by bwilson4web View Post
I could be wrong but nanoparticles by themselves just look like a fine material, somewhat porous and this is where the problem comes in. Most of our chemical reactions require ions to move about. A sufficiently fine mesh, especially as the dimensions between the particles gets very small, offers a significant challenge for 'wetting' and getting the chemicals in contact with the surface. Then comes the problem of conducting the electrons to the base electrode.
The solution presented utilizes larger supports for the nanoparticles.

Originally Posted by bwilson4web View Post
In contrast, a nanotube, or filliments with a small surface coating provides relatively larger channels to get the electrolytes down and in contact. As for nanotubes being 'inert', I believe it depends upon the material they are made of. Carbon nanotubes, yes, but other nanotube materials could be quite reactive.
Coating a nanotube with a thin coating of any material is not a trivial thing to do. It gets a lot harder if you want a catalytic material.
 
  #9  
Old 07-15-2008, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

Unfortunately, my area is really physics, not chemistry, and I haven't read much at all on nanoparticles, but the information they do present (most of which isn't very detailed scientifically) seems at least superficially plausible to me. There aren't too many psuedo-science companies that manage to hire Nobel Prize-winning chemists as advisors, and this does seem like an area rather similar to George Olah's work, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Olah],
so the whole thing strikes me as very credible. Hope that helps a bit.
 
  #10  
Old 07-15-2008, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

Well I'm content to wait on something with a little more specificity.

Bob Wilson
 

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