Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Solar Water Gas

Start with solar charcoal, add steam
  [vote for,

First, start with a cheap plentiful supply of biomass (algae, duckweed, switchgrass, etc.).

Second, build a solar concentrator.

Third, use the solar concentrator to cook the biomass to create charcoal (capture the vapors and condense them; no matter what kind biomass you use, they'll surely be useful).

Fourth, (after all of the volatiles have been driven off) add water or steam, and keep adding heat via the solar concentrator. The steam will react with the carbon to create "water gas" (a mixture of carbonmonoxide and hydrogen, both of which are flamable).

Fifth, add more water to the "water gas", and more heat from the solar collector. At the right temperatures, a chemical reaction (called a "water gas shift") will occur, where the CO and H2O change into CO2 and H2. This hydrogen gas is the end product.

So one atom of carbon, and two molecule of water, have been changed to one molecule of carbon dioxide, and two molecules of hydrogen.

If the biomass was produced by algae or duckweed, we can extract the CO2 from the hydrogen, and send it back into the farm by bubbling it through the water that the greenery was grown in. (There might be better ways of dealing with the carbon dioxide, but I can't think of any offhand).

This was inspired by bungston's idea, the home solar charcoal distiller [link].

goldbb, Mar 19 2009

Home Solar Charcoal Distiller Home_20Solar_20Charcoal_20Distiller
[goldbb, Mar 19 2009]

Solar fuel cell http://web.mit.edu/...08/oxygen-0731.html
[Smurfsahoy, Mar 20 2009]


       yeah, just do that....
WcW, Mar 20 2009

       See link for a discovery already made recently that just directly splits up water using light and a catalyst.
Smurfsahoy, Mar 20 2009

       Reread the article.   

       Their invention uses electricity and water to produce hydrogen and oxygen. The catalyst makes this electolysis more efficient, and the choice of catalyst was inspired by the chemistry of photosynthesis in plants, but no photosynthesis is being done here.   

       No sunlight is involved, except that used by the (completely seperate) photovoltaic panels that the article's authors advocate as the source of the electricity.   

       I'm sure any source of electricity would work equally well.   

       Furthermore, considering that at least one electrode needs to be partly made of platinum (which is a very expensive material) I doubt that it will become a common way to store solar electricity residentially.   

       It *might* become cheaper or more efficient than batteries, for "off grid" homes, but for anyone with a reliable electicical utility connection, an inverter and net metering will remain the prefered way of dealing with having more solar energy than is needed on-site.
goldbb, Mar 21 2009


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