The Herman Trend Alert|
April 28, 2010
Another First Step
From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) comes a breakthrough that is certainly a first step in artificially producing hydrogen reserves. Energy companies could then use these reserves to generate electricity or even produce liquid fuels for transportation.
Using sunlight, MIT researchers have created a catalyst solution that splits water into its two atomic components---hydrogen and oxygen. Imitating photosynthesis in plants, the researchers engineered M13, a simple, harmless virus that assists in the separation process.
In this process, the hydrogen atoms in the water are actually split into their component protons and electrons. Within two years, the team hopes to develop a new process that would combine these components back into hydrogen that could be stored.
Other researchers had already developed different systems that use electricity to split water molecules. As the team explained in their article published in the journal "Nature Nanotechnology" (www.nature.com), the difference is that their system, based on biology, uses sunlight, rather than electricity, to power the reaction.
The approach that proved the best was to mimic the processes that take place in plants, rather than simply borrowing their components and re-adapt them like others had done before. "In plants, chlorophyll absorbs sunlight while catalysts promote the water-splitting reaction." The team engineered a wire-like, bacterial virus that efficiently splits the oxygen from water molecules.
Acting as the chlorophyll the virus captures light, then, acting like a wire, transfers the energy down its length. The viruses' wire-like structure also allows the other ingredients to line up in such a way that it drastically improves the system's efficiency.
To be competitive with solar power, the new system must be at least 10 times more efficient than natural photosynthesis. Moreover, the system must be able to repeat the reaction almost indefinitely, as well as use cheaper materials. MIT has clearly accomplished the first step.
Sometimes we forget the importance of pure science in our technological advancement. Support for research like MIT's will be critical to US remaining competitive. More importantly, our support of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects will be important, if we are to have the people to conduct this research.
© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or https://hermangroup.com. To sign up, visit https://HermanTrendAlert.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."
HOW DOES SHE DO IT?
APF'S FUTURES FESTIVAL IN 3 DAYS: ONLINE OCTOBER 24TH: FULL SPECTRUM FUTURES
OUR VERSATILE TRANSLATOR ROCKS!
To read this Herman Trend Alert on the web: https://hermangroup.com/alert/archive_10-21-2020.html.
Herman Trend Alerts are produced by the Herman Group, strategic business futurists, Certified Management Consultants, authors, and professional speakers.
New subscribers are always welcome. There is no charge for this public service. The Herman Trend Alert is read by over 30,000 people in 90 countries, including other websites and printed periodicals. Click here to sign up for the Herman Trend Alert.
Do you enjoy receiving this weekly e-mail update? Contact us about our co-branded Herman Trend Alert service.
7112 Viridian Lane
Web site design by WebEditor Design Services, Inc.