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Renewables - August 1

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Cheap way to 'split water' could lead to abundant clean fuel

Scientists have found an inexpensive way to produce hydrogen from water, a discovery that could lead to a plentiful source of environmentally friendly fuel to power homes and cars.

The technique, which mimics the way photosynthesis works in plants, also provides a highly efficient way to store energy, potentially paving the way to making solar power more economically viable...

...Daniel Nocera, a chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed a catalyst made from cobalt and phosphorus that can split water at room temperature, a technique he describes in the journal Science. "I'm using cheap, Earth-abundant materials that you can mass-manufacture. As long as you can charge the surface, you can create the catalyst and it doesn't get any cheaper than that."
(01 August 2008)
Contributor comment: And whether or not the setup will prove cost-effective remains to be seen. It still uses a platinum catalyst to produce hydrogen, for example.
"I think that having operation at room temp and standard pressure is a key innovation," he wrote in an e-mail to "What is not there are any of the metrics that would let you determine whether this made economic sense (a huge issue in these energy technologies)."
Other scientists are, however, hard at work trying to find cheaper hydrogen producing catalysts, including a group of scientists led by Bjorn Winther-Jensen who published work on a carbon-based catalyst in the same issue of Science this week.

Pine Ridge Reservation radio station KILI-FM brings its renewable energy vision to life

Matthew McDermott, treehugger
While most of the projects we post about are in the biggest and best category, sometimes small first steps are just as meaningful. This is one such step...

...Later today 90.1 KILI-FM, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota, will dedicate the installation of a single wind turbine which will entirely power the station through renewable energy. The turbine dedication also marks the station’s 25th anniversary as the largest Indian radio station, and the “Voice of the Lakota Nation.” Expected to produce more than 92 MWh of electricity annually, the turbine will save the radio station $12,000 in energy costs...
(31 July 2008)

Westford woman on a mission to get residents using renewable energy

Jack Minch, The SUn (Lowell, Mass.)
WESTFORD -- When there is a choice between paying bills and protecting the environment, it looks as if Mother Earth may be coming in second place.

Resident Kimberly Macey is waging a campaign encouraging homeowners to buy renewable energy through National Grid's GreenUp Program, and she believes people are too worried about the economy to spend the extra $5 to $12 per month for the cost of renewable energy.

She fell short of a goal to get 3 percent of the community signed up for the program by June 30 but is continuing to woo supporters.

"I think every person who enrolled in the program is doing their small part, and I think it's wonderful, so I'm not discouraged by a lack of success," she said. "It would be more exciting if signups were happening more quickly."

Macey is setting up a tent at the Farmer's Market on Tuesdays to explain the program's benefits...
(31 July 2008)

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