Chemists advance new theory to support next generation cleantech materials

December 13 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

macromoleculesOregon

The future of energy systems will be shaped by our ability to control light, electrons and molecules.  

If we expect to transform the world's largest industries then we need fundamental breakthroughs in materials science and engineering. 

This is not the time for incremental improvements, or resting on strategies of 'consuming' green.  This is the time to turn to science- chemistry, physics, and biology.

If we expect to use our natural resources more efficienctly, and create low cost solar cells, batteries and fuel cells, then we need to leap foward in our ability to manipulate and assemble chains (polymers) of hydrogen and carbon.

Now we are a step closer to realizing this new age of advanced materials science that enable leaps in performance and efficiencies.

What happened?
A team of Oregon University researchers led by Dr Marina Guenza, using data collected by European materials researchers, has developed a theory that could end the confusion over molecule behavior in the creation of polymer materials.

The new framework for explaining molecule movement might help lower costs and expand performance of materials used in the fields of engineering, nanotechnology, and renewable energy.

Why is this important to the future of energy?

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Chinese researchers develop platinum-free fuel cell

December 18 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

alkaline fuel cellMIT Technology Review has featured a research breakthrough in platinum free fuel cells that could significantly reduce costs for a unique type of fuel cell energy conversion devices.

A Wuhan University team led by Professor Lin Zhuang has developed an Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC) using a new hydroxyl ion electrolyte that uses low cost nickel catalyst materials to react hydrogen and oxygen to create electrical current, heat and water.

NASA has used alkaline fuel cells (AFC) in space missions since the 1960s, but these types of fuel cells are not likely to be used in automobile or portable devices.  They might best be suited for onsite power generation, which is still an enormous market. AFCs use a water-based electrolye that lets postive charged molecules pass, diverting negative charges into the current.  They are very efficient (up to 70%) but do have their downsides.  If the team of researchers can increase the protoype's 'modest' electricity output (50 milliwatts/sq centimeter at 60 ºC) it could help bring low cost alkaline fuel cells to market.

Why is this important to the future of energy?
Understanding Fuel Cells & The Hype Cycle

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Rice University licenses bioengineered E Coli that produces key ingredient for biomaterials

December 19 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Biotechnology   Year: 2011   Rating: 1

Ecoli

The vision of 'Green Chemisty' is to create the basic components used in making materials, energy, food and pharmaceuticals using sustainable practices, often without the use of petroleum based feedstocks. 

Rice University researchers have bio-engineered Ecoli to produce large amounts of a key component used in the development of bio-based and biodegradable polymers.

What happened?
Raw (starch) materials provider Roquette Frères has licensed a bio-process from Rice University to use genetically engineered Ecoli that produce large quantities of succinic acid used in plastics, textiles, drugs and solvents and as a food additive.

The high volume process is competitive with petroleum based processes, and actually 'carbon negative' as it consumes carbon during the fermenation process.

Roquette Frères is not a household brand, but could go a long way in realizing a scalable way to produce bio-based succinic acid from renewable resources via “green” chemistry.

Roquette will develop a demonstration plant in France by the end of 2009 with the capacity to produce several hundred metric tons of succinic acid per year.   After successful demonstration of the technology, the company expects to begin large-scale production by 2011.

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Top Energy Science Breakthroughs in 2008 for Materials Science

December 27 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 1

silicon lithium battery

How do you build an 'sustainable' economy for 9 billion people? 

Reinvent how we make, recycle and re-use metals, wood, glass, plastic and biomaterials that go into everyday products.

Who can enable the 'new energy economy'?  Our bet is on the Scientist, not the Consumer.

While some get excited over 'green products' like solar powered backpacks, better lightbulbs and organic cotton yoga mats, most notions of 'eco-friendly' products fall drastically short of what will be needed to meet the demands of adding another 3 billion people to the planet by 2050.

We need to reinvent the whole concept of 'Industrialism' to create new methods for producing materials using less energy and 'resources' in fundamentally new ways.

List of 2008 Stories in Energy Materials Science

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