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New Piezo Crystals Harness Sound Waves to Generate Hydrogen Fuel
Posted By Ariel Schwartz On March 17, 2010 @ 10:00 am In Environment,Renewable Energy | 7 Comments
It sounds like a strange combination: zinc oxide crystals , water, and noise pollution. But scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison  have discovered that the mix can efficiently produce hydrogen without the need for a dirty catalyst  like oil. By submerging a new type of zinc oxide crystal in water, the scientists claim to be able to harvest hydrogen using vibrations from passing traffic and crashing waves.
To generate the clean hydrogen , researchers produced zinc oxide crystals that absorb vibrations when placed in water. The vibrations cause the crystals to develop areas with strong positive and negative charges–a reaction that rips the surrounding water molecules and releases hydrogen and oxygen.
The mechanism, dubbed the piezoelectrochemical effect, converts 18% of energy from vibrations into hydrogen gas (compared to 10% from conventional piezoelectric  materials). And since any vibration can produce the effect, the system could one day be used to generate power from anything that produces noise — cars whizzing by on the highway, crashing waves in the ocean, or planes landing at an airport. That sounds like a good deal to us!
Via New Scientist 
Lead photo by Oak Ridge National Laboratory 
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/new-piezo-crystals-harness-sound-waves-to-generate-hydrogen-fuel/
URLs in this post:
 zinc oxide crystals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_oxide
 University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://www.wisc.edu/
 catalyst: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/05/26/from-carbon-dioxide-to-fuel/
 Image: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/17/new-piezo-crystals-harness-sound-waves-to-generate-hydrogen-fuel/untitled-4/
 hydrogen: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/09/29/fastest-electric-vehicle-in-the-world-smashes-300mph-record/
 piezoelectric: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/30/blood-power-piezoelectric-nanowires-could-turn-your-body-into-a-battery/
 + Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jz100027t
 New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18661-crystals--sound--water--clean-hydrogen-fuel.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news
 Oak Ridge National Laboratory: http://www.ornl.gov/
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