U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has got a few interesting projects going on right now that may be of interest to our readers. First is a project headed by chemist James Muckerman where the "goal is to design a bio-inspired system that can produce fuels like methanol or hydrogen directly from carbon dioxide or water, respectively, using renewable solar energy." Synthetic photosynthesis sounds pretty interesting, no?
Next up is a study of the "role of molecule-metal contact and the electron transfer that occurs between the two", which could have many nanoscale applications that could help the cause of alternative energy. Brookhaven chemist Marshall Newton and former Brookhaven research associate Vasili Perebeinos believe that their research could result in improved solar cells.
The third project highlighted here is "an effort to find an affordable alternative [to platinum] with high activity and stability" that would work for fuel cells. Brookhaven chemist Ping Liu and her research group have found that they can coating a ruthenium oxide surface with a thin coat of platinum that the reaction in a fuel cell is nearly as good and much less expensive. The team hopes to further lower the coast of the metals by finding one even cheaper than the ruthenium oxide.
It is easy to see that much more can be learned when it comes to alternative energy. Stories like the ones listed here help remind us that we are still in the very early stages when it comes to some of these technologies (solar cells and fuel cells in particular). Just how efficient and inexpensive these units turn out to be in the end could possibly be compared to the model that batteries and the internal combustion engine went through to get where we are today. Alternative energy's future remains bright.
[Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory]