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14 Sep

Researchers create method for breaking down plant materials for earth-friendly energy

These chemical tools can access renewable energy from plant matter that could lessen our dependence on fossil fuels With energy costs rising, and the rapidly emerging effects of burning fossil fuels on the global climate, the need has never been greater for researchers to find paths to products and fuels that are truly renewable. "We use 20 million barrels of oil a day in the U.S.; that's about a fifth of the world's usage," said Ned Jackson,a professor of organic chemistry in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University. "All our liquid fuels and nearly all of our manufactured materials, from gasoline and gallon jugs to countertops and clothes, start with petroleum -- crude oil." Developing the tools to move from...
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12 Sep

Cheaper hydrogen fuel cell could mean better green energy options

Imperial researchers have developed a hydrogen fuel cell that uses iron instead of rare and costly platinum, enabling greater use of the technology. Hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen to electricity with water vapour as the only by-product, making them an attractive green alternative for portable power, particularly for vehicles. However, their widespread use has been hampered in part by the cost of one of the primary components. To facilitate the reaction that produces the electricity, the fuel cells rely on a catalyst made of platinum, which is expensive and scarce. Now, a European team led by Imperial College London researchers has created a catalyst using only iron, carbon, and nitrogen -- materials that are cheap and readily available -- and shown that it...
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