Norwegian scientists close to solving hydrogen fuel’s biggest problem

Norwegian scientists close to solving hydrogen fuel’s biggest problem

November 18, 2019

This week in future tech, researchers are closing in on a way to convert waste heat from industry into hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen fuel is being put forward as a zero-emissions alternative for many of the world’s biggest polluting sectors, such as transport and industry. However, the amount of energy that would be required to produce enough hydrogen fuel to power these sectors globally – using renewable electricity – is astronomical.

The International Energy Agency previously estimated that producing all of today’s hydrogen fuel just using electricity would require 3,600 terawatt hours (TWh), more than is generated annually by the EU.

However, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology believe they have cracked a method of producing large quantities of hydrogen fuel using waste heat from industrial processes.

Writing in the journal Energies, they described a technique called reverse electrodialysis, which relies on salt solutions and two varieties of ion exchange membranes. In Norway alone, it’s estimated that industry creates 20TWh of energy in waste heat.

“We’ve found a way of using heat that otherwise isn’t worth much,” said Kjersti Wergeland Krakhella, first author of the study. “It’s low-grade, low-temperature heat – but it can be used to make hydrogen.”

The Guardian has reported on a team of researchers from the University of Sussex who have built a device that can create 3D animated objects that people can interact with. While similar to a hologram, it actually uses a 3D field of ultrasound waves to levitate a 2mm polystyrene pellet.

This then travels around at high speed to trace the shape of the desired object in mid-air. The researchers said that at such speeds the pellet isn’t visible, but the projection can speak, make sound effects and even allow a person feel it with their hands.

“Let’s say you want to create a Harry Potter experience,” explained Sriram Subramanian, one of the researchers on the project. “You could put your hand out to cast a spell and as you move your hand you could see and feel a glowing ball growing in your palm, and we could have sound coming from it too.”

As well as these efforts, the team said it could also transform 3D printing by constructing objects from tiny droplets of different materials that can be levitated and dropped into place.

Artist and entrepreneur Kanye West is the latest celebrity to wear their sustainability on their sleeves or, in his case, his feet. According to Fast Company, West revealed that the latest shoe in his Yeezy range will be made, in part, with algae.

He was speaking at the Fast Company Innovation Festival where he held up a pair of the new shows and said the algae used in them will be cultivated at a 4,000-acre ranch in the US state of Wyoming.

“We’re going to be farming and going seed to sole,” West...


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