Northwestern Researchers Develop Novel Membrane for Hydrogen CO2 Separation

February 21 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

hydrogen gas separationResearchers from Northwestern University have developed a new class of ‘honeycomb’ gas separation materials to purify hydrogen rich mixtures like methane (natural gas) for generating electricity via fuel cells.

Traditional methods of gas separation use selective membranes that grab molecules by size. But Northwestern's Professor Mercouri G. Kanatzidis and Gerasimos S. Armatas are using a method of polarization.  As the gas mixture of (carbon dioxide and hydrogen) travels through the inner walls of the ‘mesopourous’ membrane, the carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules are slowed down and pulled towards the wall as the hydrogen molecules pass through the holes.

One type of membrane consisting of heavy elements germanium, lead and tellurium showed to be approximately four times more selective at separating hydrogen than traditional methods using lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen and carbon.  The process is reported to work at “convenient temperature range” -- between zero degrees Celsius and room temperature.

“We are taking advantage of what we call ‘soft’ atoms, which form the membrane’s walls,” said Kanatzidis. “These soft-wall atoms like to interact with other soft molecules passing by, slowing them down as they pass through the membrane. Hydrogen, the smallest element, is a ‘hard’ molecule. It zips right through while softer molecules, like carbon dioxide and methane take more time.”

 

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Top Science Breakthroughs in 2008: Novel Energy Systems

December 29 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3

Edison Light

"Whether you think you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right." - Henry Ford

The worst thing we can do when thinking about the future of energy is to look at possible solutions and simply extrapolate today's technologies and scientific assumptions forward about what 'is' or 'isn't possible'.

There is still a lot we do not know about the basics of energy systems dealing with photons, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, enzymes and metals.  Our current first phase efforts to design nanoscale materials used in energy production, conversion and storage are certain to yield systems that will change how we live in the world in the decades ahead.

Remember, only a century ago, coal and wood were king, magical 'electric' light intimidated the general public, only a few could see the potential of oil, rockets and nuclear science were beyond our imagination, and the vision of a tens of millions of 'horseless carriages' reshaping the urban landscape was a ridiculous proposition.

So what seemingly novel ideas could shape the next century?

List of 10+ Novel Energy Stories from 2008:

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