Daniel Halliday
May 6 ยท Last update 16 days ago.
What are the most exciting alternative energy breakthroughs?
Any revolution in our use of energy has got to be the most exciting area in human development, as the fight against climate change will have to come from innovation in how energy is generated, used and stored. What are some of the most exciting breakthroughs in alternative energy technology? What has the greatest potential to help us in tackling climate change?
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Using plastics to make liquid fuel
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Using solar power to make hydrogen
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Using plastics to make liquid fuel

Plastics are one of the most common forms of physical pollution, as they degrade so slowly and are massively widespread due to 95% of plastics that are thrown away after a single use, combined with decades of destructive landfill dumping and burying as a means of disposal. However this might change as scientists have recently discovered a method of converting plastic back into a liquid petroleum substance that they were originally made from. The method involves heating shredded plastics with carbon to very high temperatures to facilitate the breakdown of the plastics into a fuel. If this method can be industrialised it might give greater value to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the world oceans every year, giving not only a method for recycling but a economic incentive if fuel can be generated.

sciencealert.com/scientists-just-turned-plastic-bottles-and-bags-into-liquid-fuel phys.org/news/2019-06-group-plastic-products-jet-fuel.html

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Using solar power to make hydrogen

While utilising solar energy has been previously limited by the efficiency of batteries, and is somewhat still limited by their physical weight, hydrogen has often seemed another clean fuel alternative and now solar energy may be able to turn salt water into hydrogen for fuel as well. This process utilises the age old method of electrolysis, but uses solar energy from photovoltaic cells to power the process and causes a reaction in water to release pure hydrogen and oxygen. However the contacts, or electrodes, in the water suffer from corrosion and the reaction in this method is short-lived without constant electrode replacement. What has been discovered by researchers at Stanford University in the United States is that if one conductive electrode is coated with negatively charged particles corrosion is slowed and electrodes last hundreds of times longer. This could not only help current electrolyser systems become more efficient, but could help develop new hydrogen fuel innovations such a hydrogen vehicles, and could even be used as a passive oxygen production method to combat climate change and ocean acidification directly.

sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190318151726.htm

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