Monday 1 December 2014

Scientists Predict Green Energy Revolution after Incredible New Graphene Discovery

Andre Geim
Graphene – Positively Charged Hydrogen Atoms/Protons

It has been discovered by researchers that graphene enables positively charged hydrogen atoms or proton to pass through it inspite of being completely impermeable to other gases inclusive of hydrogen. Recently discovered is a type of carbon graphite, the material in a pencil lead, having unexpected properties that could create a revolution in the development of green energy and electric cars.

According to scientist, the implications are immense since it could increase the efficiency of the fuel cells generating electricity directly from hydrogen. This breakthrough has brought about an expectation on the prospect of extracting hydrogen fuel from air and burns it as a carbon free source of energy in fuel cell in order to produce electricity as well as water without any damaging waste products.

There is some amount of hydrogen in the atmosphere which ends up on the other side in a reservoir and this hydrogen collected in the reservoir can be used to burn it in the same fuel cell in making electricity according to Professor Sir Andrei Geim of Manchester University. Since the discovery, ten years ago, graphene has amazed the scientisit which is the thinnest known material, million times thinner than human hairbut more than 200 times stronger than steel as well as the best conductor of electricity in the world.

Permeable to Protons

Till date, being permeable to protons was not taken into consideration as a practical possibility but Sir Andre’s international team of scientists who shares the 2010 Nobel Prize for his work on graphene has shown that the one atom thick crystal acts as a chemical filter which enables the free passage of protons but forms an impenetrable barrier to other atoms and molecules.

Sir Andre states that `there have been three or four scientific papers before about the theoretical predictions on how easy or how hard it would be for a proton to go through graphene and these calculations give numbers that take billions and billions of years for a proton to go through this same membrane. It is just so dense an electronic field it just doesn’t let anything through. But it is a question of numbers, no more than that and this makes a difference between billions of years and a reasonable time for permeation. There is no magic’.

Graphene Tough and Light 

Graphene being tough and stronger than steel is incredibly light and is considered the first two dimensional material since it forms sheets of crystal which are one atom thick. Besides it is also a good conductor of electricity and is useful for anything related to electronics, like bendable mobile phones, camera and wearable electrical devices attached to clothing.

Moreover, Graphene is also being utilised as a new material for membrane connected in separating liquids and could be used in purifying water in the developing world or also to create efficient desalination plants. Scientists are of the opinion that graphene’s high strength together with the low weight could be harnessed for new composite material and polymers for the transport industry making travel much safer and fuel efficient and it seems that graphene could also be used to generate upgraded type of generating clean electricity with the use of hydrogen fuel cells as well as technology in harvesting hydrogen fuel from air.

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