Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Nano Tech Final Post
I wanted to get one more post in while we are finishing projects and I think nano tech's effect on the energy industry is a good topic to end with.
The above link outlines a few ways that nano technology is being applied to improve how we use energy. The opening topic of this article is hydrogen powered fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells contain membranes that allow hydrogen ions to pass through, but not other particle like oxygen. The main catalyst in this process is Platinum. The reason why these cells are not more effective is because Platinum is very expensive.
This is where nano tech comes in. By using nano particles of Platinum or other catalysts scientists are able to create more effective membranes for this process. This will result in longer lasting and higher charged fuel cells.
Another application is creating batteries that won't need to be charged, but instead refilled with methanol. I am not sure how I feel about this, because I am not sure how often you will have to do this or how much new methanol packs will cost, but having a new option is very exciting.
Another fantastic application of nano tech has come out of Louisiana Tech University in the field of bio fuels. Many groups of people have been working on new fuel options in order to combat CO2 emissions and a lack of readily available fossil fuels. This has lead to experiments with corn ethanol and other bio products. The problem with this is that CO2 emissions are only around 19 percent lower and as you can imagine corn ethanol is made from corn, meaning the fuel product competes with food production.
The solution that LTU has come up with is cellulosic ethanol. This consists of wood, grass, or plant stocks. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the fuel has been improved using nano particles which immobilize enzymes that are needed for the process. This has made the CO2 emissions 86 percent less.
I find that this is an important development since fossil fuels are now widely believed to be unnecessary and outdated. All that is left is for us to do is perfect the new technology and switch to bio fuels or a better option that may be discovered in the future.