Fuel For the Future: Chemist Develops Ammonia Fuel Cells that “Bottle” Sunshine and Wind

Ammonia may become the foundation of the future of sustainable energy. But until recently, the production of ammonia has been extremely energy-intensive. At the core of each ammonia, the factory is steel reactors that still use a century-old recipe for making ammonia: the Haber-Bosch process.

The recipe entails generating up to 250 atmospheres of pressure to split the chemical bond that holds together the molecules of nitrogen and then combining the atoms with hydrogen to make ammonia.

In 2018, Douglas MacFarlane, a professor of chemistry at Monash University in Australia, developed fuel cells that can transform renewable electricity into ammonia. Fuel cells normally use the energy stored in chemical bonds to make electricity. MacFarlane’s fuel cells operate in reverse, making carbon-free fuel from electricity.

“This is breathing nitrogen in and breathing ammonia out,” said MacFarlane, showing his fuel cell. It is almost the size of a hockey puck and clad in stainless steel. Two plastic tubes on the cell’s backside feed it nitrogen gas and water. It has a power cord for electricity and a third tube on the front that silently exhales ammonia.

Tapping into the potential of ammonia as a carbon-free fuel

Ammonia is a colorless, pungent, and irritating gas. The human body produces ammonia, which is essential for creating proteins and other complex molecules. In nature, soil also produces ammonia through bacterial processes. The decomposition of organic matter like plants and animals also produces ammonia.

Most of the ammonia produced worldwide is used as fertilizer. Plants need nitrogen to grow and bear fruit and ammonia delivers that nitrogen in a more biologically available form.

Companies around the world produce $60 billion worth of ammonia annually, primarily as fertilizer. However, the current method used to produce ammonia, the Haber-Bosch process, has changed very little since its development in the early 1900s. It consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels and causes air pollution.

MacFarlane’s reverse fuel cells might allow ammonia manufacturers to do away with this energy-intensive and environmentally damaging technique altogether and produce ammonia more efficiently in the process.

But MacFarlane’s fuel cells may do more than just help farmers grow food. By converting renewable electricity from the sun and wind into an energy-rich gas that can be easily cooled and squeezed into liquid fuel, the cells effectively “bottle” sunshine and wind, turning them into commodities that can be shipped worldwide.

The bottled carbon-free fuel can then be converted back into electricity or hydrogen gas to power cars. And the best part about the fuel is that it is environmentally friendly. “Liquid ammonia is liquid energy,” said MacFarlane. “It’s the sustainable technology we need.”

Research also indicates that the energy density by volume of ammonia is nearly double that of liquid hydrogen, its primary competitor as a green alternative fuel. Ammonia is also much easier to ship and distribute. “You can store it, ship it, burn it and convert it back into hydrogen and nitrogen,” said Tim Hughes, an energy storage researcher at Siemen, a manufacturing company based in England. “In many ways, it’s ideal.”

Given the potential of ammonia as a clean, sustainable, and carbon-free fuel, experts are now working toward a vision of an “ammonia economy.” And Australia is positioning itself at the helm of those efforts.

For starters, the ancient, arid landscapes of Australia are fertile ground for new growth. Additionally, Australia receives more sunlight per square meter than just about any other country. Its south and west coasts are also buffeted by powerful winds. Overall, the country boasts a renewable energy potential of 25,000 gigawatts.

And if scientists harness this renewable bounty, ammonia could become the most dominant form of renewable and transportable energy in the future.

Go to Power.news to learn more about how scientists are using ammonia to create fuel.

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By Divina Ramirez | Science.News

New Technology Allows Human Activity To Generate Renewable Energy

Credit: Wake Up World

By Jessica Murray | True Activist

A revelation in sustainable energy has just been discovered which means that people could soon be generating electricity through the act of walking. A team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have recently developed a unique flooring made of entirely renewable and economical material, which creates energy through footsteps. Similarly to this, another group of mechanical engineers at the university had developed a technology which allows energy to be generated through a pair of shoes.

Xudong Wang, who is the lead researcher of the project, believes that his new technology could revolutionize the way that people approach energy. He created his innovative technology using common waste materials, including wood pulp made of cellulose nanofibers which are very inexpensive, renewable, and often retrieved from waste products of industries. This creates an electrical charge when the chemically treated fibers come into contact with untreated fibers. As the nanofibres are put into the flooring, energy is produced which can be used for lighting or even to charge batteries.

The science and innovation website Grendz commented on the clean energy discovery by saying,

“Wang’s research centers around using vibration to generate electricity. For years, he has been testing different materials in an effort to maximize the merits of a technology called a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG). Triboelectricity is the same phenomenon that produces static electricity on clothing. Chemically treated cellulose nanofibers are a simple, low-cost and effective alternative for harnessing this broadly existing mechanical energy source.”

This new technology could even rival wind and solar energy as it does not need to rely on specific weather conditions. Researchers have also suggested that there is more potential for this sustainable energy than the current fossil fuel reserves. Wang said, “Roadside energy harvesting requires thinking about the places where there is abundant energy we could be harvesting. We’ve been working a lot on harvesting energy from human activities. One way is to build something to put on people, and another way is to build something that has constant access to people. The ground is the most-used place.”

Credit: WomenOfGrennn

Wang described his huge visions for the new technology, using the example of areas where thousands of people are continuously walking, such as shopping malls and stadiums. He also mentioned that he has developmental ideas of how to expand on the concept in busy places, such as creating multiple layers of the flooring technology, in order to create an increased energy output. He said,

“Our initial test in our lab shows that it works for millions of cycles without any problem. We haven’t converted those numbers into a year of life for a floor yet, but I think with appropriate design it can definitely outlast the floor itself.”

A group of mechanical engineers, who have developed a shoe which has the ability to capture the energy of human motion as steps are taken, have said that this can create enough energy to power mobile phone and other small electronic devices. The new technology, which captures the energy and stores it for when it is required, is said to be extremely useful for those living in remote areas where electricity isn’t easily accessible. As well as this, the engineers also believe that their new technology could be of great use to the military, who currently have to carry around extremely heavy batteries to power their radio devices.

These innovative ideas could change the way that people see power, together with moving away from the excessive use of fossil fuels to an easily accessible alternative. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (New Technology Will Allows Human Activity To Generate Renewable Energy) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

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Tesla’s Virtually Indestructible Solar Roof Tiles Are Literally Guaranteed For Infinity

By Claire Bernish | True Activist

Orders have now begun pouring in from around the planet for Tesla Inc.’s radical, renewable resource — solar roof tiles — which blend into to a structure’s architecture to provide energy from the Sun without the garish appearance that makes traditional panels stick out like sore thumbs.

According to Tesla’s website,

“Solar Roof complements your home’s architecture while turning sunlight into electricity. With an integrated Powerwall battery, energy collected during the day is stored and made available any time, effectively turning your home into a personal utility.”

But while Elon Musk’s announcement that his innovative corporation would begin taking orders Wednesday dominated headlines, one phenomenal detail about the solar roof tiles seemed to escape the media’s attention: These little powerhouse tiles are guaranteed, quite literally, forever.

“Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first,” the Tesla website proudly asserts.

To wit, Tesla includes simultaneous video loops at 2,500 frames per second of its Solar Roof and two, traditional roof tiles being slammed with a two-inch hailstone traveling near 100 miles per hour upon impact.

Both traditional materials shatter and disintegrate under the force of the speeding ice ball, while Tesla’s Solar Roof tile acts as an impenetrable shield — to the opposite effect — with the hailstone smashing to pieces against it.

Credit: Tesla

Musk’s Tesla has been subverting the system in order to speed the world toward renewable, sustainable energy sources as a part of everyday life and away from fossil fuels and their pernicious progeny — plastics and myriad other petroleum-based products.

While solar energy at the residence level has indeed become more pervasive in recent times, traditional panels jut out from roofs in obvious fashion — so much so, they have been called eyesores by some. Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles have a far lower height profile, smaller individual size, and are generally less obvious — with exponentially greater stability and endurance against the elements than their unsightly predecessors.

Just one drawback comes with purchasing these revolutionary solar powerhouses — the price tag.

But the sting to one’s wallet, Tesla asserts, is only temporary. Built literally for life — and guaranteed to be replaced should that lifespan be shorter than, well, yours — these durable solar roof tiles more than makeup for costliness through energy savings for the customer.

Interested in a renewable and durable, guaranteed solar roof?

“To get in line for a solar roof,” Reuters reports, “homeowners must put down a $1,000 deposit via Tesla’s website. There, they can also calculate the estimated upfront cost of a solar roof.

“A 1700-square-foot roof in Southern California, with half the roof covered in ‘active’ solar tiles, would cost about $34,300 after a federal tax credit, according to the calculator. Tesla estimates such a roof could generate $76,700 of electricity over 30 years.

“The company said its solar roofs would cost between 10 and 15 percent less than an ordinary new roof plus traditional solar panels.”

Tesla is taking orders from people all around the globe and asserts these amazing solar roof tiles will be delivered to customers in the United States beginning at the end of this year, with 2018 the target for deliveries elsewhere.

True Activist / Report a typo

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Solar Can Already Generate More Energy Than Oil, Study Says

Credit: The Mind Unleashed

By Lance Schuttler | True Activist

Oil proponents have been saying for awhile now that solar doesn’t match up to oil’s energy output, but that statement may have just been proven false. In a major scientific study published in November 2016’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review,researchers looked at 29 separate studies and compared the solar photovoltaics (PV) generated as compared to the energy needed to create and install the panels.

Related Article: Elon Musk: We Can Power America by Covering Small Corner of Utah With Sola

The study compiled all the data from the 29 separate studies to gain a clearer picture of solar power’s energetic output. What they found was that only 5 of the 29 studies used recent data, which initially, showed a bleaker picture of what solar can actually generate. However, after compiling data with up to date technological advances in solar energy, the studies showed that solar can generate 14 times the power needed to create the panels.

The author of the study, Rembrandt Koppelar, who is a doctoral researcher at the Center for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, said that oftentimes solar studies are using data that date back to as far as 1998. In other words, many studies put out there about solar energy, are using technological data that is many years old, and not up to date with current capabilities of solar energy output.

Solar Performs Better

A major study by the Royal Society of London in late 2013 showed that the average energy output of oil and gas is about 17 times the amount invested. However, because of our world’s ever-increasing dependence on lower quality sources, the cost of such sources is more expensive and is becoming more difficult to extract from the Earth. Thus, the number of 17 is continually decreasing.

In the United States for example, that number is at 11 for oil and gas and at 10 for biofuels. Recall that the recent solar study calculated that the rate of return for solar is 14 times the amount invested. Solar is already beating oil, gas and biofuels in the United States.

Koppelar also said that nearly 85% of the world lives in areas that receive a significant amount of sunlight. Areas such as South and Central America, Africa, the southern United States, and most of Asia and Oceania receive enough sunlight year round that the number of 14 would be seen as a “low value.” Essentially, solar will be able to provide much more than 14 times the amount of energy that it takes to create the panels in those areas of the world.

The world has also seen solar energy continue to gain momentum as just last month, the Tesla company announced that they will begin selling solar roof panels in 2017 that will likely be more cost effective than a “regular roof.” Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said of the announcement:

“It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof will actually cost less than a normal roof before you even take in the value of electricity into account. So the basic proposition would be, ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and by the way generates electricity?’ It’s like, why would you get anything else?”

Related Article: New Rooftop Solar Panels Are 30 – 40% More Efficient

Additionally, a major project in Asia was announced in October that will see Russia, China, Japan and South Korea create the Asian Super-Grid, which will consists of solar and wind technologies to help power those countries, as well as areas in Europe, southern Africa and Southeast Asia.

The clean energy revolution continues to accelerate, and with this latest news, it is set to move forward even more in the weeks and months ahead. Sharing this latest scientific study with clean energy skeptics could help, as well as sharing it with clean energy proponents. Awareness and knowledge helps to transform situations. We have the technological means to go completely renewable. Share this good news with whoever you can.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (New Scientific Study Says Solar Can Already Generate More Energy Than Oil) by Lance Schuttler originally appeared on The Mind Unleashed,

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