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April 27, 2017

Artificial photosynthesis cleans the air & generates renewable energy

The possibility of sustaining world energy needs away from the empire of fossil fuels by tapping into cleaner renewable energies like solar and wind has always looked immensely promising, save for a few roadblocks like cost, storage availability, and the absolute lack of available full-time sunshine or wind.

Sustainability enthusiasts tracking new discoveries for the creation of renewable fuels should be encouraged by this research breakthrough from University of Central Florida chemistry professor, Fernando Uribe-Romo.

As reported by the University of Central Florida, Uribe-Romo has just found a way to trigger the process of photosynthesis in a synthetic material, turning greenhouse gases into clean air and producing energy at the same time:

Researcher Fernando Uribe-Romo subjects his new synthetic material to artificial blue light, which it absorbs and uses to trigger a photosynthesis-like chemical reaction. Photo by the University of Central Florida

“The process has great potential for creating a technology that could significantly reduce greenhouse gases linked to climate change, while also creating a clean way to produce energy.

““This work is a breakthrough,” said UCF Assistant Professor Fernando Uribe-Romo. “Tailoring materials that will absorb a specific color of light is very difficult from the scientific point of view, but from the societal point of view we are contributing to the development of a technology that can help reduce greenhouse gases.”

“Uribe-Romo and his team of students created a way to trigger a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal–organic frameworks (MOF) that breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials. Think of it as an artificial photosynthesis process similar to the way plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into food. But instead of producing food, Uribe-Romo’s method produces solar fuel.

The following video link features Uribe-Romo explaining the process: click here.

“It’s something scientists around the world have been pursuing for years, but the challenge is finding a way for visible light to trigger the chemical transformation. Ultraviolet rays have enough energy to allow the reaction in common materials such as titanium dioxide, but UVs make up only about 4 percent of the light Earth receives from the sun. The visible range – the violet to red wavelengths – represent the majority of the sun’s rays, but there are few materials that pick up these light colors to create the chemical reaction that transforms CO2 into fuel.

“Researchers have tried it with a variety of materials, but the ones that can absorb visible light tend to be rare and expensive materials such as platinum, rhenium and iridium that make the process cost-prohibitive.

“Uribe-Romo used titanium, a common nontoxic metal, and added organic molecules that act as light-harvesting antennae to see if that configuration would work.  The light harvesting antenna molecules, called N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates, can be designed to absorb specific colors of light when incorporated in the MOF. In this case he synchronized it for the color blue.

“His team assembled a blue LED photoreactor to test out the hypothesis. Measured amounts of carbon dioxide were slowly fed into the photoreactor — a glowing blue cylinder that looks like a tanning bed — to see if the reaction would occur. The glowing blue light came from strips of LED lights inside the chamber of the cylinder and mimic the sun’s blue wavelength.

“It worked and the chemical reaction transformed the CO2 into two reduced forms of carbon, formate and formamides (two kinds of solar fuel) and in the process cleaning the air.

““The goal is to continue to fine-tune the approach so we can create greater amounts of reduced carbon so it is more efficient,” Uribe-Romo said.”

The photoreactor resembles a tanning bed, and by feeding measured amounts of carbon dioxide into the glowing cylinder, the team was able to see if the material within kicked off the chemical process(Credit: University of Central Florida)

“He wants to see if the other wavelengths of visible light may also trigger the reaction with adjustments to the synthetic material. If it works, the process could be a significant way to help reduce greenhouse gases.

““The idea would be to set up stations that capture large amounts of CO2, like next to a power plant. The gas would be sucked into the station, go through the process and recycle the greenhouse gases while producing energy that would be put back into the power plant.”

“Perhaps someday homeowners could purchase rooftop shingles made of the material, which would clean the air in their neighborhood while producing energy that could be used to power their homes.

““That would take new technology and infrastructure to happen,” Uribe-Romo said. “But it may be possible.””

While this simply put proposition sounds remarkably logical, if this technology proves to be successful, such a change to this planet’s energy infrastructure will represent a monumental challenge.

Of note, other members of the Uribe-Romo team included UCF graduate student Matt Logan, who is pursuing a PhD in chemistry, and undergraduate student Jeremy Adamson, who is majoring in biomedical sciences. Kenneth Hanson and his research group at Florida State University helped interpret the results of the experiments.

Source & images via University of Central Florida

The findings of his research have been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A .

March 24, 2017

Testing launches for cleanly producing hydrogen with artificial sun

Filed under: Climate Change,Renewable Energy — Tags: , , , — Glenn @ 10:38 am

For those who continue to ask (myself included) about the future of cleanly producing hydrogen, we put a spotlight on this March 23 press release about the development of this artificial sun in Germany.

Sun at the touch of a button

Thursday 23 March 2017

Sun in four walls

  • The largest artificial sun in the world is located at the DLR site in Jülich.
  • 149 High-power emitters can generate a multiplicity of solar radiation.
  • The development of solar fuel production is progressing faster due to weather independence.

The largest artificial sun in the world has appeared in Jülich since 23 March 2017. Johannes Remmel, the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Environment, put the new research facility ” Synlight ” into operation, together with Dr. Georg Menzen (BMWi) and Prof. Dr. Karsten Lemmer, Member of the Board for Energy and Transport of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) . The plant will be used, among other things, to develop production processes for solar fuels such as hydrogen.

Contribution to the Energiewende

NRW’s Environment Minister Johannes Remmel emphasized the importance of research for the energy sector: “In order to achieve the targets for the expansion of renewable energy, we need the practical expansion of existing technology Synlight will keep the energy turnaround. ”

In the three-storey Synlight building, a total of 149 xenon short arc lamps emit. For comparison: in a large cinema the screen is irradiated by a single xenon short arc lamp. The scientists can focus the radiators on an area of ​​20 by 20 centimeters. If the radiation of the lamps with an output of up to 350 kilowatts occurs there, it has the up to 10,000 times the intensity of the solar radiation on the earth. The lamps focus on temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius. These temperatures are used by researchers to produce fuels such as hydrogen.

Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future because it burns without emitting carbon dioxide. The production of hydrogen by splitting the world’s available raw material water into its constituents hydrogen and oxygen requires a large amount of energy. This can be provided by the sun. “Renewable energies will form the backbone of global energy supply in the future,” says DLR CEO Lemmer, emphasizing the relevance of intensive research into alternative energy generation. “Solar generated fuels, fuels and fuels offer great potential for long-term storage, the production of chemical raw materials and the reduction of CO2 emissions.” Synlight is giving our research in this area backwind. ”

Faster development under laboratory conditions

Since the sun is rare and irregular in Central Europe, an artificial sun is the medium of choice for the development of production processes for solar fuels. With the Synlight tests, bad weather periods and fluctuating radiation values ​​can not make the tests or their evaluation more difficult or slow down. With its infrastructure, including the Solarturm Jülich and the scientific environment, Jülich also offers ideal conditions for innovative developments in solar technology. A shift from research facilities to more sun-drenched regions promises, at first glance, more favorable conditions, since even there the sun never shines with the same intensity. But that is important for fast innovation cycles: constant test conditions, which can be reproduced quickly and exactly.

The scientists at the DLR Institute for Solar Research have already succeeded in producing hydrogen with the aid of solar radiation years ago , but at a laboratory scale. In order for such processes to become of interest to industry, the scale must be significantly increased. This is precisely the goal of Synlight. Research is focused on solar fuel production, but the new plant can be used for many other applications. Since the spectrum of the UV radiation is similar to that of the sun, aging processes of materials can also be shown in a timed manner. An interesting aspect, both for space and industry.

“Synlight fills a gap in the qualification of solarthermal components and processes,” explains Dr. Kai Wieghardt, who has played a key role in the construction of the plant. “The new artificial sun is between lab-scale facilities, such as the high-power spotlight at the DLR in Cologne and the large-scale systems such as the solar tower here in Jülich.”
For the experiments, three irradiation chambers are available to users of the facility. Depending on the requirements, the necessary lamps are bundled or surface-aligned to the test setup. With the three chambers, several experiments can be prepared at the same time and the system can be optimally utilized.

The DLR Institute for Solar Research has built the research facility in a building constructed by the Jülich Technology Center over the last two years and rented it to Synlight for the long term. The state of North-Rhine Westphalia supported the project with 2.4 million euros, about 70 percent of the total sum of 3.5 million euros. The difference of 1.1 million euros was provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

For more information about this project, use this contact list.

contacts

Michel Winand
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Communication Cologne
Tel .: +49 2203 601-2144
Dr.-Ing. Kai Wieghardt
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute for Solar Research, Large Plants and Solar Materials
Tel .: +49 2203 601-4171

December 5, 2015

Elon Musk proposes smart carbon tax

Filed under: Climate Change,Renewable Energy — Tags: — Glenn @ 10:28 am

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk addressed an audience at Paris Sorbonne University during the 2015 Council on Climate Change held in Paris.

His subjects: climate change, fossil fuels, the carbon cycle.

The video, including audience questions is here.

 

December 3, 2015

Advanced Infrared Camera Can Photograph Methane

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A new camera has eliminated the guesswork about where greenhouse gases are being emitted. It can photograph and film methane.

This technology has been released by a team of researchers from Linköping and Stockholm Universities who have demonstrated how this remarkably advanced camera can record methane in the air around us.

Importantly, this technological advance can play an important role in global efforts to measure and monitor greenhouse gases.

camera shoots methane inventors104304_web

According to a press announcement, the camera has been developed by a team that combined knowledge from many different fields of expertise, including astronomy, biogeochemistry, engineering and environmental sciences.

“This gives us new possibilities for mapping and monitoring methane sources and sinks, and it will help us understand how methane emissions are regulated and how we can reduce emissions,” said David Bastviken, Linköping University professor at Tema Environmental Change,  and principal project investigator. “So far the camera has been used from the ground and now we’re working to make it airborne for more large-scale methane mapping,”

So much for the dubious notion, “If you can’t see it, it’s not there.” Now it will be visible for all to see.

The news release reports several questions surround the powerful greenhouse gas methane, including its rapid but irregular increase in the atmosphere. There is also considerable uncertainty regarding methane sources and sinks in the landscape.

The new camera may help address these issues. The utility of the camera to both photograph and film methane has been demonstrated in a study that was recently published in Nature Climate Change.

“The camera is very sensitive, which means that the methane is both visible and measurable close to ground level, with much higher resolution,” said Magnus Gålfalk, Assistant Professor at Tema Environmental Change, Linköping University, who led the study.

The hyperspectral infrared camera weighs 35 kilos and measures 50 x 45 x 25 centimeters. It is optimized to measure the same radiation that methane absorbs, and which makes methane such a powerful greenhouse gas.

The camera can be used to measure emissions from many environments including sewage sludge deposits, combustion processes, animal husbandry, and lakes. For each pixel in the image the camera records a high-resolution spectrum, which makes it possible to quantify the methane separately from the other gases.

Longstanding complaints of methane leaks from natural gas production and distribution can also be recorded. It will be very interesting to report on the results.

Image via Linkoping University

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