APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Energy / Power
- Chemical production
- No moving parts
- Provides electrical current while producing hydrogen
- Uses water
Richard Saykally and colleagues at Berkeley Lab have developed a clean method for generating hydrogen gas from microjets of fluid, such as water, while simultaneously generating an electrical current. By using abundantly available water in a device with no moving parts, this method opens the door to inexpensive, clean production of hydrogen.
By hydrostatic pressure, the fluid is forced through conduits with diameters on the nanometer to micrometer scale. Negative charge carriers in the fluid adsorb to the internal surface of the conduits and protons are carried away in the microjet, creating a net positive current. The microjet then strikes a downstream target connected to an electron source, where the protons combine with electrons to produce hydrogen gas (H2). At the same time, the accumulated negative charges in the conduit generate a negative electrical current. The scientists tested these findings in a prototype that they are optimizing for greater efficiency.
Hydrogen is extremely advantageous as a source of energy because of its high combustion efficiency, renewability, and non-polluting chemistry (its combustion products are only water and energy). However, the expense and pollution associated with current methods of hydrogen production, such as the oxidation of methane, have severely limited the use of hydrogen-based fuels. The Berkeley Lab method circumvents these problems.
STATUS: Issued Patent #8372374 available at www.uspto.gov. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
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REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2093