How ships could produce an unlimited amount of their own fuel

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The key is this special catalyst.

A new study shows that a lower-cost catalyst could help turn seawater into fuel on ships.

  • High-performance molybdenum is combined with potassium and gamma alumina to make a scaleable catalyst.
  • The material costs less than previous versions that worked as efficiently.

Scientists have taken a major step by improving a process for turning seawater into hydrocarbons. The barebones of the technology has existed since a landmark 2014 paper, but scientists have worked since then to make the process energy-efficient and affordable enough to use at scale in the field. This work could be a step toward that threshold.

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Energy researchers break the catalytic speed limit

 

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A new discovery by University of Minnesota and University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers could increase the speed and lower the cost of thousands of chemical processes used in developing fertilizers, foods, fuels, plastics, and more.

A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered new technology that can speed up chemical reactions 10,000 times faster than the current reaction rate limit. These findings could increase the speed and lower the cost of thousands of chemical processes used in developing fertilizers, foods, fuels, plastics, and more.

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Platinum-Free Fuel Cells Eliminates Need For Expensive Catalysts

Platinum-Free Fuel Cells Eliminates Need For Expensive Catalysts 

 A new polymer, shown in powdered form, can be used to make stable fuel-cell membranes that conduct negatively charged ions.

Fuel cells are, in principle, the most efficient way to convert hydrogen fuel into electricity. But they require expensive catalysts such as platinum to split hydrogen into ions and electrical current. Cheaper metals simply can’t withstand the harsh acidic environment of the fuel cell. Now researchers in China have developed a fuel cell that uses a new membrane material to operate in alkaline conditions, eliminating the need for an expensive catalyst. The power output of the new prototype, which uses nickel as a catalyst, is still relatively low, but it provides a first demonstration of a potentially much less expensive fuel cell.

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Nanonets Could Convert Sunlight Into Hydrogen

Nanonets Could Convert Sunlight Into Hydrogen

The top image shows a nanonet magnified 50,000 times. At bottom, a
flexible nanonet rolls up when poked by the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope.

One problem with solar cells is that they only produce electricity during the day. A promising way to use the sun’s energy more efficiently is to enlist it to split water into hydrogen gas that can be stored and then employed at any time, day or night. A cheap new nanostructured material could prove an efficient catalyst for performing this reaction. Called a nanonet because of its two-dimensional branching structure, the material is made up of a compound that has been demonstrated to enable the water-splitting reaction. Because of its high surface area, the nanonet enhances this reaction.

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