Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2004-12-06
  Getting our energy
While I don't like the idea of hydrogen powered cars (with their big bulky high pressure tanks), I do think hydrogen is going to play a part somewhere in the fuel chain, even if its created and then combined with carbon (charcoal) to make synthetic fuels and oils. To get the hydrogen, some people talk about wind power driving electrolysis, but that's pretty ugly. Creating it directly from sunlight is better.

Direct photoelectrochemical separation of water into Hydrogen and Oxygen is already pretty efficient and getting better by the day. It can use the entire spectrum of light (unlike solar cells which typically only use the IR and red, except for the super expensive multi-band-gap kind used on satellites), and sample implementations up until now have not involved super exotic materials or precious metals like electrolysis does.

According to Nathan Lewis, professor of chemistry at Caltech (and big naysayer back in the days of Cold Fusion, much to the disappointment of us undergrads), it would only take 57,600 square miles of a thin membrane version of this converter to supply the country with all the hydrogen power it needed for transportation and building use. Of course that's more than a couple rooftops.

To give you a sense of scale, Kramer Junction which operates five 30MW power stations and is the biggest solar farm in the world, covers approximately two square miles.

[reference]
Wired Article: Sunlight to Fuel Hydrogen Future, through Fuel Cell Works.

 
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The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
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New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

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Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

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Scramjets take to the air
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Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
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