Could the way plants turn water into hydrogen and oxygen power fuel cells? CNN Sucks

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by coopdog, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. coopdog macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I love the editoral comment at the begining of this article:

    Wow??!?! Really!? Ever drop a battery in a glass of water? Hydrogen and oxygen gas will come off the terminals of the battery. That's science fiction right there.

    Ok article though

    Link
     
  2. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Yeah, it's just reiterating old news.
    Fuel cell technology has been around for quite some time.
    It's just the matter of producing it cost-effectively and in commercially viable quantities that's the problem.
    Imagine a future where energy is plentiful and cheap. I hope I see it in my lifetime.
     
  3. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #3
    But the idea is to get a cheap way to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Using batteries and DC current isn't all that efficient considering you need to have a considerable amount of power to release the ions. Using plants is a great way of doing it and could end up being a great, cheap solution in providing hydrogen.

    D
     
  4. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #4
    All I want is my water splitting Jeep... and I will be a happy man.
     
  5. wPod macrumors 68000

    wPod

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    #5
    yeah the key is cheap and efficient. . .if you want to pay for all of the batteries to split the water, go ahead. . . and all the pollution in creating batteries . . . but ill wait a couple years till they can split a gallon of water for 1/16th the price of a battery

    as for the jeep. . . rock on! im working on making the cash to fix the transmition on mine. . . till then i get to drive my jetta :) happy trails neo. . . er i mean MISter Anderson
     
  6. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Thats why a hydrogen economy would be stupid with the current state of the art. I think a biogenetic engineering program that creates a plant, or pairs of plants that splits hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight would be the way to go.

    How much energy is there in two hydrogen bonds versus how much energy sunlight can provide at the equator in 1 square inch?
     
  7. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #7
    No weather vehicle?

    So, plant-based car would be green (chlorophyll). Would said car run better in the rain (constant water) or sunlight (constant energy). At least you could fill the tank at home. Just bust out the garden hose!
     
  8. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #8
    But there is also the issue of water. By making it a fuel source, there will be even more demand, and in many places its getting harder and harder to come by.

    I think what's needed even more is the awareness of what you're actually doing by driving around in your car. Efficiency in milage and use of mass transit are ways to lengthen resource lifetime, but while these ideas are theoretically appealing, they're much harder to gain acceptance in the masses.

    D
     
  9. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Um...er... 3/4ths of the Earth is covered in water. I guess the plant would need to be descended from the kelp family, that way, it can handle salt water. :p
     
  10. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #10
    Using plants to convert solar energy into hydrogen would be awesome, since it would be a biological solution to something we can only currently do by electrolyzing water directly using solar panels. It'd also hopefully provide a means to remove some of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help with global warming. After all, all those fossil fuels came from exactly the same place--plants convert solar energy into themselves, then die and leave all that energy in a readily useable form--crude oil.

    There's never going to be as much energy available as we have now, though--oil is just too energy rich and cheaply available. So your Jeep might not have 200HP, or there might not be as many Jeeps around, but hopefully a hydrogen powered Jeep will be in the near future.

    CNN, however, does get an idiot award for that comment; Duhh, there's an electrolyzer splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen two rooms over from where I'm sitting, and another one doing the same entirely using solar energy a few miles from here. Yeah, that's sci-fi alright.

    (By the way, if this theory goes somewhere, you'd still probably have a power plant--literally plant, since it'd be a field/room full of them--producing your hydrogen, that you'd then put in your fuel-cell equipped Jeep. A (literally) green car wouldn't produce enough energy to drive anywhere significant in a short timespan, and probably wouldn't work for other reasons as well.)
     
  11. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    There are a few scientists that believe fossil fuels are a misnomer. If fossil fuels really did come from plant material, how is it possible to have fossil remains in coal? Shouldn't that have turned into coal as well?

    Though, Thomas Gold could be a crank. Maybe in the same order as the ones that said the Earth was round. :p
     
  12. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #13
    I have absolutely no idea where somebody would think a big pool of nearly pure carbon would come from other than dead stuff, but the "fossils in coal" argument is really stupid (although I agree "fossil fuel" is something of a misnomer).

    Technically, fossilization is the process of bone or other organic matter being "replaced" a bit at a time with rock leeched in from the outside. Fossil fuels, therefore, though composed of old dead stuff, aren't technically fossils.

    Fossil fuel is composed of the decomposed remains of a whole lot of algae, basically--a giant pool of organic muck that rotted under sediment at the bottom of the ocean. Result: a big soup of gooey (or solid) carbon, and the only place you can get nice, tidy concentrations of carbon is from when stuff dies. If something a little bigger (a whale or whatever) happened to die in the middle of a puddle of dead phytoplankton, it's skeleton might fossilize in a more traditional way (though I've never heard of anything as dramatic as a dinosaur skeleton being found in a coal vein).

    Point being, although there are probably pseudo-scientist nuts trying to argue that oil came from aliens or something, pointing out fossils in the middle of a coal bed as a hole in existing scientific theory implies a total lack of understanding of how most people think fossil fuels formed.

    [/end rant] (Sorry, counter-arguments are important to the maintenance of healthy science, but sometimes people say really hair-brained things because they want to be a rebel who makes an important discovery, but don't care to actually do the work to find something real, and that annoys me.)
     
  13. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    I think the jury is still out on Thomas Gold's assertion. Its an interesting theory though. Also, there is the thermophyllic bacteria that is found down there. I guess that could be explained by millions of life cycles with which bacteria have mutated.

    There is an abundance of methane in Jupiter. Was that caused by decomposition of organic matter, or was it created when the planet coalesced?
     
  14. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    #15
    On that fossil fuel note, what will happen to the world once our supply of fossil fuels runs out? I mean, not only will we not have gas, oil and coal to produce electricity, but we won't have any more plastics and organic polymers to make macs out of *gasp*!!! :eek:
     
  15. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    It won't ever get to that.

    What I see is if petroleum gets too expensive, there will be more of an incentive to go to other technologies for energy. Right now, the costs for petroleum is finding and extracting it out of the ground. There are some oil deposits that are known, but the technology to extract profitably is not available, and so, its not extracted.

    If the technology becomes available, or the price for petroleum rise because of scarce supplies, then that deposit will be tapped. At a certain price point, other energy technologies will become more attractive to develop and market.
     
  16. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #17
    Re: Could the way plants turn water into hydrogen and oxygen power fuel cells? CNN Sucks

    And I wonder how the crew of nuclear submarines breathe too...

    sorry it took me so long, I've been busy this week :p
     
  17. topicolo macrumors 68000

    topicolo

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    #18
    But you're not getting the whole of my question. Petroleum isn't just used for energy, it's used to make plastics, drugs, polymers, and practically everything else we use everyday. If the prices get too high, switching energy sources isn't going to make drugs or plastics that much cheaper and the little guy will still get screwed.
     
  18. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Petroleum's #1 use is energy. Granted its used for synthesis of building materials and pharmaceuticals, but what will cause the change away from petroleum is a scarsity and rise in prices.

    We will find other materials with which to build objects with without petroleum.

    I'd take a fine-grained carved mahogany computer case for my G9. :)
     
  19. amnesiac1984 macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    There's an article in the latest New Scientist stating that a company has developed a small reactor for converting ethanol into hydrogen amongst other things, this could be used on a car instead of having a big hydrogen fuel tank.
     
  20. MrMacMan macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    #21
    cool, do you have a link?

    Seems intresting.
     
  21. amnesiac1984 macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I know it is on their website, but you have to be a subscriber to view it and my subscription ran out.

    The article is entitled "Can Bio-booze fuel the hydrogen economy?" and it is on page 23 of the issue of 21 febuary 2004.

    the guardian have picked up on the story, although they talk more about the process and the new scientist talk more about the prototype reactor, and the fact that is it pretty small and easily put into a car.
     
  22. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #23
    recombinant DNA technology
     

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