LED-powered hydrogen chips with high-performance computing and plasmonic nanotechnology could increase clean energy storage.
Renewables supply more energy worldwide. According to the International Energy Agency, solar will be the world’s greatest power source in five years. While lot to rejoice, the worldwide transition to green energy still has flaws. A US-developed hydrogen chip with high-performance computation could overcome some of these technology barriers.
Wind and solar power are intermittent energy sources. Turbine and solar arrays may surpass demand at peak generation. To smooth green energy input to the power grid and avoid supply-demand mismatches, setups need storage.
Batteries could work. However, lithium, high-grade nickel, and cobalt, needed to construct them, are scarce. Even a massive battery array wouldn’t power cities during peak hours. Using extra green electricity to fill high-altitude dams with water is one solution: pumped hydro energy storage (PHES).
Valve openings allow dammed water to run down and power turbines when the sun or wind stops. PHES plants store energy well. Hydropower provides 96% of global storage power capacity, dwarfing batteries.
The article’s ingenious hydrogen device is one of many chemical green energy storage alternatives engineers are researching. Hydrogen has been “the fuel of the future” for centuries. To reach net-zero obligations, clean-burning hydrogen must be commercialized quickly.
Sunlight into gas
Electrolysis utilizing renewable power to produce hydrogen from water is a popular topic. Strong solar countries could store hydrogen and ship it to cloudier regions. Hydrogen is difficult to store long-term.
Compressing hydrogen gas is expensive, because hydrogen atoms can shatter metals. Ammonia, a nitrogen-hydrogen molecule, makes a better hydrogen carrier. The Haber-Bosch process has manufactured ammonia for decades, but it requires heat, pressure, and fossil fuels, making net-zero promises difficult.
Recent efforts show that renewable sources can produce ammonia. Siemens established a green ammonia pilot plant in Oxfordshire, UK. One of the missing elements has been an affordable means to release (or separate) hydrogen from ammonia while using the gas.
Hydrogen chip design
Scientists found that ruthenium catalysts lower reaction temperatures. Ruthenium, a platinum group metal, is expensive. The US hydrogen chip team considered nanotechnology as an option.
TIGRESS (the Terascale Infrastructure for Groundbreaking Research in Engineering and Science Center) high-performance computing resources developed their idea to extract hydrogen from ammonia using only energy-efficient LEDs. Due of the plasmonic features of small copper antennas, the gadget runs at room temperature without heating.