Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Wonder Material Could Harvest Energy from Thin Air


Graphene – Most Innovative Advance in Battery Technology

Claims for new battery technology have been all over the place since the development of lead acid battery for over 150 years. Researchers however, at Manchester University in UK, state that their discovery regarding the new material graphene would be the most innovative advance in battery technology.

As per study which had been published in the journal Nature, graphene membranes could be utilised in sieving hydrogen gas from the atmosphere, an improvement which could make way for electric generators powered by air.

Post-doctoral researchers in the project, Dr Sheng Hu commented that it seems extremely simple and promising since graphene can be produced in square metre sheets and they hope that it would find its way to commercial fuel cells sooner than later.

At the core of technology is the physical properties of graphene which is an element having the same atomic assembly as the lead which is present in the household pencil. Graphene already very popular as a technological game changer, however was isolated in 2004 by a group from Manchester University ledby Andrew Geim and Kostya Novoseloy, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery in 2010.

Lightest/Thinnest/Strongest Harder than Diamond

Graphene is the lightest, thinnest and the strongest object obtained and the first two dimensional crystal known to science. Moreover, it is harder than diamond and about 200 times stronger than steel. Being transparent and flexible in conducting electricity much better than copper, this substance is set to transform from smartphones and wearable technology to green technology as well as medicine.

Known for its barrier qualities, it is about an atom thick and more than a million times thinner than a human hair. With the latest discovery, graphene is smart for probable usage in proton conducting membranes that is at the heart of modern fuel cell technology.

Fuel cell tends to function by using hydrogen and oxygen for fuel, converting the chemical energy created by its input into electricity directly. But present membrane that tend to discrete protons essential for the process are comparatively incompetent, enabling contamination in the crossover of fuel.

Hydrogen Acquired Entirely from Fossil Fuels

Graphene membranes can boost their durability as well as efficiency. The team discovered that the protons passed through the ultra-thin crystals with relative ease especially at increased temperatures as well as with the utilization of platinum based catalyst covered on the membrane film.

The amazing feature of the research is that the membranes could be utilised in extracting hydrogen from the atmosphere wherein the scientist believed that such harvesting could be joined with fuel cells in creating a mobile electric generator fuelled by hydrogen present in the air. According to the scientist, it is a simple setup when one knows how it should work.

You could put a hydrogen containing gas on one side and apply a small electric current to collect pure hydrogen on the other side and this hydrogen could then be burned in a fuel cell. They had worked with small membranes and had achieved the flow of hydrogen tough tiny.

 However, this is the initial state of discovery and the paper is to bring about an awareness of the prevailing prospects, among experts. Further efforts would be needed to build up and test hydrogen harvesters and presently hydrogen is acquired entirely from fossil fuels.

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