Thursday, April 21, 2005


Earlier in my solar career, I was the publisher and editor of a solar magazine called Spectra.

We thought the name was cool because spectra is plural for spectrum and somehow we thought that communicated our uniqueness. We were handling the entire spectra of solar energy, from old solar like fossil fuels, to wind, water, biomass, and recyling. The magazine was actually more like a book. It had a perfect bind on it and it was shaped like a national geographic magazine.

We ran an article called heliohydrogen in it in Volume VI..

It said,

Researchers at Texas A and M University reported recently that they have developed the basic technology to use water to make hydrogen fuel as cheap as gasoline, perhaps for as little as $1.00 for the equivalent of a gallon.

The new advance, for the first time allowing hydrogen production at a rate considered practical for commercial development, is based on the simultaneous creation by two young scientists of a photo-cathode and photo-anode to electrochemically split water molecules.

Electrochemist Dr. John Bockris, who heads the Texas A & M Hydrogen Research Center, called the events a "real breakthrough" and said the potential applications are "immense" for a pollution free fuel.

The story continues

Conventional automobiles require only a few modifications-primarily a fuel injection system, turbocharger and storage tank- in order to run on hydrogen, explained Bockris, who has carried out hydrogen research for six years. He came to Texas A & M in 1978.

Wait a minute, is that a typo?

No it's not a typo. This particular edition of Spectra magazine is almost 24 years old.

Then, last month, this story comes out.

Sandia National Laboratories
March 17, 2005

Tiny porphyrin tubes developed by Sandia may lead to new nanodevices
Research could result in clean, inexpensive hydrogen fuel

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sunlight splitting water molecules to produce hydrogen using devices too small to be seen in a standard microscope. That's a goal of a research team from the National Nuclear Security Administration's Sandia National Laboratories. The research has captured the interest of chemists around the world pursuing methods of producing hydrogen from water.

"The broad objective of the research is to design and fabricate new types of nanoscale devices," says John Shelnutt, Sandia research team leader. "

This investigation is exciting because it promises to provide fundamental scientific breakthroughs in chemical synthesis, self-assembly, electron and energy transfer processes, and photocatalysis. Controlling these processes is necessary to build nanodevices for efficient water splitting, potentially enabling a solar hydrogen-based economy."

Shelnutt says the nanodevice could efficiently use the entire visible and ultraviolet parts of the solar spectrum absorbed by the tubes to produce hydrogen, one of the Holy Grails of chemistry.

These nanotube devices could be suspended in a solution and used for photocatalytic solar hydrogen production. "Once we have functional nanodevices that operate with reasonable efficiency in solution, we will turn our attention to the development of nanodevice-based solar light-harvesting cells and the systems integration issues involved in their production," Shelnutt says.

In the Solar Hydrogen Economy, we must crack water into hydrogen and oxygen using wind, hydropower, and solar power. Wind power is there. Hydropower is there. (but limited).

Solar power with photon to electron conversion materials is getting there with power paints and nanoantenaes. Using nuclear power to make hydrogen is nothing short of stupidity or some kind of cultural death wish.

But these kind of heliohydrogen techniques where hydrogen is created by the action of a submerged silicon photo-cathode and a photo-anode , or with these light harvesting nanodevices that operate in solution may, in fact, be the solution to the creation of affordable large scale production of heliohydrogen.

And, there is strong evidence that living creatures can also provide commercial hydrogen from the sun.

Here is a story from the SF

Enzyme Lets Algae Produce Hydrogen to Use as Clean Fuel Berkeley scientist says discovery is like `striking oil' -

Glen Martin, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2000

Researchers have found a metabolic switch in algae that allows the primitive plants to produce hydrogen gas -- a discovery that could ultimately result in a vast source of cheap, pollution-free fuel.

Hydrogen, which can be used as a clean-burning fuel in cars and power plants, is virtually limitless in availability, because it is part of the water molecule. It is a candidate to become the world's primary fuel in coming decades.

But until now, it was obtainable in quantity only through relatively expensive extraction procedures involving the electrolysis of water or processing natural gas.

The breakthrough, by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Energy, would make possible the commercial production of hydrogen gas by photosynthesis in tanks, ponds or the open ocean.

``I guess it's the equivalent of striking oil,'' said Tasios Melis, a microbial biology professor at UC Berkeley. ``It was enormously exciting. It was unbelievable.''

Texas A & M, Sandia National Labs, the University of California, the US Department of Energy all seem to know how to make cheap hydrogen from water with solar energy.

And remember, hydrogen from wind power is already competitive with 2.00 gasoline.

So remind me.

Exactly why are we sending our sons and daughters to War and

Why are we spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year,

to defend our national interests in the Persian Gulf?

Especially, when if we are successful defending these remaining resources,

And we burn it in our cars and trucks,

All we do is destabilize the climate even more.

This is not Rocket Science.

It is Materials Science.

And the World is using bad material.

And the Earthfamily is suffering for it.

Earthfamilyalpha Content



Blogger hopstarr said...

Remind you? What was it Sam Houston said on the San Jacinto Battlefield when he dictated the borders of Texas? (Remember what the borders were until 1851?) "When you control the source, you control eveything downstream." Back then the issue was water. Texas' borders included several major "...river to its source..." Now how many millions of $10/bbl oil was Saddam smuggling out of Iraq? And what do you suppose that was doing to the world market?
Not that that was a reason....

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good information, I'm amazed.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this also work with blue algae to convert solar radiation into usable hydrogen through water and nutrients

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I see technology moving at warp speed compared to the evolution of our humanity. Clinton was the first national leader to say that healing our environment creates jobs as opposed to cutting them, and the economy responded. The real challenge is coming up with new and improved ways to provide the jobs to equitably distribute wealth, expand the middle class, and eliminate poverty and homelessness.

6:18 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

I suspect that the real challenge will be dealing with the fact that a truly advanced economy will have less and less jobs, not more. Social Equity in a robotic society will require a high understanding of human purpose and capability.

Thank your all for your comments

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

24 years! jesus......thank you

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The posting is good - not too techy. Those of us that are challenged, still get the gist. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. You make the obvious more obvious by the way you juxtapose the hard with the soft.

The BBC had a short clip on the glaciers that are melting at a rate in Antartica faster than any other place on the globe and that we would begin to see a pattern of global warming in the not too distant future that will be readily recognizable.

4:01 PM  

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