Meet the zeptosecond, the shortest unit of time ever measured


ABOVE – A particle of light, called a photon (yellow arrow), produces electron waves out of an electron cloud (grey) of a hydrogen molecule (red: nucleus). The result of those interactions is what’s called an interference pattern (violet-white). The interference pattern is slightly skewed to the right, allowing researchers to calculate the time for the photon to get from one atom to the next.

Scientists have measured the shortest unit of time ever: the time it takes a light particle to cross a hydrogen molecule.

That time, for the record, is 247 zeptoseconds. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1. Previously, researchers had dipped into the realm of zeptoseconds; in 2016, researchers reporting in the journal Nature Physics used lasers to measure time in increments down to 850 zeptoseconds. This accuracy is a huge leap from the 1999 Nobel Prize-winning work that first measured time in femtoseconds, which are millionths of a billionths of seconds.

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What the future of fuel cell EVs looks like…


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are considered by the most, as two competing technologies. Although both technologies power an electric motor, they have different properties and each of them is well suited for some uses more than others.

BEVs market is increasing, with the major automotive companies, like BMW, and Mercedes, starting to introduce into the market an increasing number of electric battery vehicles, in parallel to the main BEVs company like Tesla, and Toyota. FCEVs on the other hand are still at the demonstration stage.

In April 2019 Daimler stepped back from the development of the GLC F-Cell, after many years of investigation of fuel cells technologies. Besides this decision, Daimler did not completely abandon the hydrogen powertrain, but mostly shifted its focus to a different application. In fact, a collaboration with Volvo to develop fuel cell heavy-duty vehicles will possibly begin in September 2020, which will define a new chapter for the hydrogen technologies.

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Scientists extract hydrogen gas from oil and bitumen, giving potential pollution-free energy


Scientists have developed a large-scale economical method to extract hydrogen (H2) from oil sands (natural bitumen) and oil fields. This can be used to power hydrogen-powered vehicles, which are already marketed in some countries, as well as to generate electricity; hydrogen is regarded as an efficient transport fuel, similar to petrol and diesel, but with no pollution problems. The process can extract hydrogen from existing oil sands reservoirs, with huge existing supplies found in Canada and Venezuela. Interestingly, this process can be applied to mainstream oil fields, causing them to produce hydrogen instead of oil.

Hydrogen powered vehicles, including cars, buses, and trains, have been in development for many years. These vehicles have been acknowledged to be efficient, but the high price of extracting the Hydrogen from oil reserves has meant that the technology has not been economically viable. Now a group of Canadian engineers have developed a cheap method of extracting H2 from oil sands. They are presenting this work at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Barcelona.

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Scientists just found a new way to make fuel from seawater


Could this help reignite hydrogen as a renewable fuel?

Though hydrogen fuel eliminates tailpipe pollution, most hydrogen fuel is made from natural gas, a fossil fuel. It is possible to make it from a cleaner source: water. With electrodes in water, electricity can split the hydrogen from oxygen, giving you pure hydrogen. But until now, the processes have relied on purified freshwater, which is expensive. For the use of hydrogen fuel to scale up, we need a different source, one that’s cheaper and doesn’t use up water we could be drinking instead.

Now new research from Stanford scientists demonstrates a new method for making hydrogen fuel directly from ocean water. “Right now, the need for hydrogen is still relatively limited because the so-called hydrogen economy hasn’t taken off yet, although it’s in its early growing stage,” says Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford and coauthor of a new paper about the research. “You could imagine there would be more demand for hydrogen.”

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Natural gas firms have a proposal to convert home heating to hydrogen

Residential Natural Gas Meters In Chester County, Pennsylvania

Three companies want to test out a pilot project in Northern England by 2028.

Three natural gas distributors issued a report this week detailing plans to convert the UK’s residential gas system to a hydrogen delivery system. UK firms Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, as well as Norwegian gas firm Equinor, wrote that the proposal (PDF) was technically feasible. They also suggested an initial roll-out of the program to 3.7 million homes and 400,000 businesses in Northern England could commence as soon as 2028.

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Canadian scientists are developing a system that could turn atmospheric CO2 into fuel


An industrial carbon dioxide recycling plant is being developed by Canadian scientists that could one day suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into a zero-carbon e-diesel fuel. Developed by tech start-up Carbon Engineering and partly funded by Bill Gates, the system will essentially do the job of trees, but in places unable to host them, such as icy plains and deserts. (Video)


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This Gates-funded toilet will change how we think about poop


Yan Qu and Clement Cid spend a lot more time thinking about poop than your average academics. The pair, both at Caltech, are part of a team working on what could be the future of bathrooms: a self-cleaning, solar-powered toilet that turns human waste into hydrogen and fertilizer.



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NASA plans to make water and oxygen on the surface of the Moon and Mars by 2020


NASA is taking steps that could lead to colonization of other planets.

NASA is working on plans to make water, oxygen, and hydrogen on the surface of the Moon and Mars. It is vital that we find a way of extracting these vital gases and liquids from moons and planets if we ever want to colonize other planets, rather than transporting them from Earth (which is prohibitively expensive, due to Earth’s gravity). The current plan is to land a rover on the Moon in 2018 that will try to extract hydrogen, water, and oxygen — and then hopefully, Curiosity’s successor will try to convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen in 2020 when it lands on Mars.



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Low-Cost nanosheet catalyst discovered to split hydrogen from water

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This magnified image from a transmission electron microscope reveals details of the unexpected nanosheet structure of the nickel-molybdenum-nitride catalyst, seen here as dark, straight lines.

Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential, either by releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or requiring rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum…

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The danger of farting in space

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Space gas has its consequences.

Humans produce two flammable gases: hydrogen and methane. Flammable gases accumulate in an enclosed space and can ignite. Astronauts are humans who spend lots of time in enclosed space. The logic is irrefutable. So, what’s the risk to farting astronauts?

Between 1968 and 1971, researchers Edwin L. Murphy and Doris H. Calloway published three, count ‘em, three studies on flatulence. The 1969 paper was about astronauts and their farts, specifically a study to determine the level of flatulence produced by difference astronaut space diets. Picturing how the study went brings into focus the many indignities astronauts face for their shot at space travel…

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Breakthrough in the future of superconducting


Is it possible for a gas to act like a metal?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it’s not all that useful as a gas. Two scientists say they’ve coaxed it to become a metal, which could be used in ways that would radically change our lives.

Two scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany say they applied intense pressure and manipulated a few other conditions to transformed hydrogen into a metal. If their results, which they published in Nature Materials, can be reproduced it could lead to amazing things like super-efficient transportation systems, powerful medical devices, and major advances in computing…

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