Feeds

Hydrogen on demand from silicon nanospheres - just add water

Buffalo boffins tout ‘instant energy’ for portable devices

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

“Instant energy, just add water” – you might expect the expression under an ACME label in an old Warner Bros cartoon, but not from a University.

However, researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York have demonstrated that nano-particles of silicon react with water to produce the non-toxic silicic acid and release hydrogen. The reaction is well known, but the university says using 10nm spheres of silicon works 1,000 times faster than bulk silicon.

Published in Nano Letters, the experiment didn’t require external heat or light to release the hydrogen, which was captured by the researchers to power a small fuel cell driving a fan.

Geometry is the key to the performance of the 10nm nano-spheres, which present the maximum possible surface area (relative to their size) to the water. Larger particles, the researchers explain, clump together and their surfaces react less uniformly with the water. “When it comes to splitting water to produce hydrogen, nanosized silicon may be better than more obvious choices that people have studied for a while, such as aluminum,” researcher Mark Swihart, UB professor of chemical and biological engineering and director of the university’s Strategic trength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems says in the university’s announcement.

Swihart’s colleague Paras Prasad, executive director of UB’s Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, believes the technique would find its first applications in portable power sources.

They’re not putting forward the idea as “free power”, however, noting that it takes significant energy to create the silicon nano-spheres. Rather, they see the phenomenon as having potential as a portable energy source. A small hydrogen fuel cell is lighter to carry than a generator or battery packs, Swihart said, and could be used to power remote devices like GPS, satellite phones and laptops. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.