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View Diary: Overnight News Digest -- "Big and Badass" Edition (41 comments)

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  •  Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production (6+ / 0-)

    Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production could revolutionize alternative energy market

    BLACKSBURG, Va., April 4, 2013 – A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.

    “Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering. “Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future.”

    Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory. Zhang’s method can be performed using any source of biomass.

    •  This sounds almost too good to be true (5+ / 0-)

      It reminds me of switchgrass being the holy grail of biofuel production, but I'm not writing it off - interesting to hear more about as their results are reviewed and hopefully verified:

      The energy stored in xylose splits water molecules, yielding high-purity hydrogen that can be directly utilized by proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Even more appealing, this reaction occurs at low temperatures, generating hydrogen energy that is greater than the chemical energy stored in xylose and the polyphosphate. This results in an energy efficiency of more than 100 percent — a net energy gain. That means that low-temperature waste heat can be used to produce high-quality chemical energy hydrogen for the first time. Other processes that convert sugar into biofuels such as ethanol and butanol always have energy efficiencies of less than 100 percent, resulting in an energy penalty.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 09:34:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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