As a fuel, hydrogen is wonderful thing because burning it or consuming it in a fuel cell produces only water as exhaust and it has good energy density when the gas is compressed. However, producing and storing hydrogen is problematic, to say the least. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, however most of it is in the form of compounds, with relatively little in pure form that can be used as a fuel.
University of Nevada, Reno professor Manoranjan Misra is working on a new process for generating pure hydrogen utilizing two of the most abundant resources available, sunlight and water. Utilizing a new material made up of billions of nano-tubes, water is passed through and ultrasonic waves energized by sunlight cause the water to be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. A small-scale reactor is currently running in a lab, and Misra estimates an industrial scale unit could be running by the end of the decade. He estimates that this process could yield hydrogen at the gasoline energy equivalent cost of about $1 gallon. If this actually works as advertised, and could be built at residential sizes, it could be used in sunny areas of the country to produce hydrogen for home energy and fueling vehicles using water from the water main. Obviously this would not be viable in northern climates, but this could be a prime example the decentralization of energy system and elimination of the energy monoculture.

[Source: PhysOrg]

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