Company to harvest green hydrogen by igniting oil fires underground


Injection wells at the Superb oil field in Canada. To make hydrogen, workers heat the reservoir with steam and feed it air, setting off underground oil fires.

This month, on the frozen plains of Saskatchewan in Canada, workers began to inject steam and air into the Superb field, a layer of sand 700 meters down that holds 200 million barrels of thick, viscous oil. Their goal was not to pump out the oil, but to set it on fire—spurring underground chemical reactions that churn out hydrogen gas, along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Eventually the company conducting the $3 million field test plans to plug its wells with membranes that would allow only the clean-burning hydrogen to reach the surface. The CO2, and all of its power to warm the climate, would remain sequestered deep in the earth.

“We want to launch the idea that you can get energy from petroleum resources and it can be zero carbon emissions,” says Ian Gates, a chemical engineer at the University of Calgary and co-founder of the startup, called Proton Technologies.

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Hydrogen is a bad car fuel, but it’s the perfect boat fuel


Because boats are cars too

There are issues inherent with hydrogen as a fuel for cars. It is incredibly expensive and energy intensive to create, it is difficult to pressurize and transport, and the infrastructure for hydrogen as fuel is far less developed than battery electric charging. A few automotive manufacturers, chiefly Honda and Toyota, have hung their zero emissions program hat on the hydrogen peg, but it’s still a very small sliver of the automotive market. It’s pretty much only viable in a small area of Southern California near the fueling stations. As a car fuel, hydrogen straight up sucks.

 Toyota and the Energy Observer are proving that hydrogen might be best served as a fuel for traversing the high seas, however. Toyota has adapted what it has learned from the Mirai hydrogen experiment to the Energy Observer, a former racing catamaran which now travels the world preaching the gospel of maritime ZEVs.

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The smart cell turning solar energy into hydrogen


What could be better than a solar cell that captures most of the visible light spectrum to generate energy? A cell that can capture the whole visible light spectrum and turn the energy into hydrogen. The cell is actually a molecule, and it is a busy molecule: it not only harnesses 50 percent more solar energy than existing solar cells, but it also turns this energy into hydrogen.

“The whole idea is that we can use photons from the sun and transform it into hydrogen. To put it simply, we are saving the energy from sunlight and storing it into chemical bonds so it can be used at a later time,” explains the lead researcher in the team that developed the molecule, chemistry professor Claudia Turro from the Ohio State University.

“What makes it work is that the system is able to put the molecule into an excited state, where it absorbs the photon and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen,” Turro added. “This storing of two electrons in a single molecule derived from two photons, and using them together to make hydrogen, is unprecedented.”

The molecule is a form of rhodium—an inert metal and member of the platinum group—and because it can both collect solar energy and then act as a catalyst to turn it into hydrogen, it makes for a much more efficient fuel production system than existing alternatives, at least with respect to energy loss during the process of conversion of solar energy into hydrogen.

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The world’s first hydrogen train is now in service



Two Coradia iLint trains have begun running a line in northern Germany.

The world’s first (and second) hydrogen-powered trains have entered service in northern Germany, marking the start of a new era for sustainable travel. Two Coradia iLint trains, made by Alstom, have begun working the line between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude just west of Hamburg. Until now, the nearly 100km-long line has been serviced by diesel trains, but will now play host to near-silent engines.

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National Ignition Facility Houses the World’s Largest and Most Powerful Laser

aligning laser beams

A positioner centers the target inside the target chamber and serves as a reference to align the laser beams.

“Creating a miniature star on Earth” is the goal of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), home to the world’s largest and highest-energy laser in Livermore, California. On September 29th, 2010, the NIF completed its first integrated ignition experiment, where it focused its 192 lasers on a small cylinder housing a tiny frozen capsule containing hydrogen fuel, briefly bombarding it with 1 megajoule of laser energy. (Pics)


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