Nanotubes And Alternative Energy

January 26th, 2006 | researchmaterial

At Penn State University, researchers are finding new ways to harness the power of the sun using highly-ordered arrays of titania nanotubes for hydrogen production and increased solar cell efficiency.

“Basically we are talking about taking sunlight and putting water on top of this material, and the sunlight turns the water into hydrogen and oxygen. With the highly-ordered titanium nanotube arrays, under UV illumination you have a photoconversion efficiency of 13.1%. Which means, in a nutshell, you get a lot of hydrogen out of the system per photon you put in. If we could successfully shift its bandgap into the visible spectrum we would have a commercially practical means of generating hydrogen by solar energy. It beats fighting wars over middle-eastern oil…”


4 Responses to “Nanotubes And Alternative Energy”

  1. This is some cool shit your digging up!

    Being able to generate hydrogen is a nice option.

    I don’t know whether batteries or (hydrogen tank plus a fuel cell) has a higher storage density, but I think it is the latter.

    If that is the case, this is a really big win. You could use a largish system to create H2 for your fuel cell / electric car, or a modest system to act as a power backup system for your house.

    You could also use it as a sort of load leveler. When demand is heavy and electric rates high, you could use the H2 your house system generates during slack times.

  2. “You could also use it as a sort of load leveler. When demand is heavy and electric rates high, you could use the H2 your house system generates during slack times.”

    You can also sell surplus back to the grid, as some alternative energy generators do now.

  3. While this would be incredibly cool and useful, I wold like to remind people that in the “hydrogen economy”, hydrogen is NOT an energy source. It is the means to move energy around. You still need to acquire energy from a source (oil, gas, solar etc.).

  4. An former co-worker does the sell-back trick.

    It was a real bear to set up; the utility took months to install a time-of-day meter, and wanted a hefty fee. Says his electric bill looks like a raw spreadsheet.

    During the day he sells electricity dear (about $.15 / kwh) to PG&E.

    At night, he buys current on the cheap (about $.04 /kwh) to charge his electric pickup truck.

    Last I talked, he wasn’t quite breaking even, but that is still an accomplishment . . . and he doesn’t pay anything for gas (petrol) in the pricey Bay Area.