Here Comes the Sun

(10 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Looks like we may have a paradigm shift underway. This might be the greatest discovery since making fire.

Google: MIT professor Daniel Nocera and light up! The links are starting to multiply.

August 4, 2008 (Computerworld)  Researchers at MIT say they have made an energy storage breakthrough that could transform solar power from an alternative energy source to a mainstream source. The university is calling the solar project a major advancement in energy research.

Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world’s energy problems, Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and a researcher on the project, said in a statement. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year.


“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind,” Barber said in a statement. “The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production, thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”


Taking a page from photosynthesis in plant life, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, came up with a process (see video) to use the energy from the sun to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases, according to a report from MIT. Later, when it’s needed, the gases can be combined inside a fuel cell. That reconnection creates carbon-free electricity that can be used to power an office building, a home or even an electric car – whether the sun is shining or not.

Nocera noted that the process uses natural materials, is inexpensive to conduct and is easy to set up. “That’s why I know this is going to work. It’s so easy to implement,” he said.

“This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said Nocera. “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now, we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.”

It gets way better, too…

Why Oil Really Fell Today-and Could Keep Falling

From today’s, Tue 5 AUG US News & World:

Oil slipped below $120 at one point today and now overall is down nearly 20 percent from its July high of near $150. But I don’t think the drop had much to do with the usual suspects-a weak consumer spending report, less risk that Tropical Storm Edouard will smack the Gulf Coast-which will surely be mentioned in the financial pages tomorrow.

I think the drop had everything to do with reports this weekend that MIT chemist Daniel Nocera seems to have discovered a cheap-by a factor of 1,000-and easy way to separate hydrogen from water. Scientific American puts the advance in context:

   According to John Turner, a research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., who was not involved in the research, the discovery could reduce the need for platinum in a conventional electrolyzer. He believes it could also play a role in a future large-scale hydrogen generator, which would collect the energy from sunlight in huge fields and then run that electric current through water to produce vast amounts of hydrogen to meet, for example, the demand from a future fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles. “That’s what his advance is pointing towards,” he says, “finding an alternative catalyst that will allow us to do oxygen evolution (breaking the bonds of water or H2O and forming oxygen) in concert with hydrogen” on a grand scale.


Bottom line: I think research into alternative energy technology is moving ahead way faster than the Washington politicians realize. (But we still need to exploit oil and coal and nuclear to bridge the gap from a hydrocarbon to post-hydrocarbon economy.) And it is all happening without spending trillions of dollars in taxpayer money for energy-themed Manhattan Projects or Apollo programs. This possible breakthrough came from MIT’s Solar Revolution Project, which was funded to the tune of $10 million by telecommunications entrepreneur Arunas Chesonis. Heroic capitalism strikes again.

Who knew? ;-);-);-)

I think I’ll just microwave some of that there salicornia using the sunlight falling on my roof. They say it tastes like asparagus.


Skip to comment form

    • RUKind on August 5, 2008 at 07:30

    Could it really happen? Will the Big Oil companies buy up the world’s supply of platinum by Friday?

    Imagine a planet-wide free wifi, no fossil fuel burning, no ugly telephone poles and wires, street-side trees growing to their natural shapes, sparkling blue skies. Wow!

    Then again – is this happening in time to adapt to climate change? Could be.

    Like the Buddha said: Three things cannot long be hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth. Let’s hope the truth isn’t far behind the sun.



    • Edger on August 5, 2008 at 15:14

    Dutch scientists demonstrate their electric kite

    Scientists from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands harnessed energy from the wind by flying a 10-sq metre kite tethered to a generator, producing 10 kilowatts of power.

    The experiment generated enough electricity to power 10 family homes, and the researchers have plans to test a 50kW version of their invention, called Laddermill, eventually building up to a proposed version with multiple kites that they claim could generate 100 megawatts, enough for 100,000 homes.

    Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution, has estimated that the total energy contained in wind is 100 times the amount needed by everyone on the planet. But most of this energy is at high altitude.

    There are many ideas for commercial-scale demonstration projects. An Italian company, Kitegen, has come up with a theoretical design for a system that could generate a gigawatt, as much power as a standard coal-fired power station. Its idea involves flying 12 sets of lines with four 500-sq metre kites on each.

    Read more here…

    • Alma on August 5, 2008 at 17:15

    Lets hope the money makers don’t try and bury it because there’s not as much money in it for them.

    My Mom’s had solar panels on her house since the 70’s when they gave you a tax break for it.  Through the years its saved her thousands of dollars in heating costs, and natural gas.  It would be so cool (for the planet) to have something even more efficient, and affordable.

  1. Uh, no.

    As long as world society is based upon the principle of capitalist profit, we are in trouble.

    • k9disc on August 5, 2008 at 18:52

    I’ve been looking at hydrolysis for some time and was hoping for a breakthrough.

    This is big news!

    They should license it as open source technology.

    There’s a concept… Open Source Technology!

  2. about this here:

    Hope inspiring quotes from the article…

    The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it’s easy to set up, Nocera said. “That’s why I know this is going to work. It’s so easy to implement,” he said.

    Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.

    I hope, I hope, I hope….

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