Gallery: New Piezo Crystals Harness Sound Waves to Generate Hydrogen Fu...

 

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!

+ Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

Via New Scientist

Lead photo by Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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7 Comments

  1. Peter Lang September 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

    the method i use uses 43,000 cps ultrasound and zinc oxide mesoglass. the 43,000 cps is close to the keely water frequency and the mesoglass allows for the formation of anderson localizations.

  2. bon October 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Why not generate sound by dropping steel balls onto a surface that will vibrate? Gravity is free. Someone would need to raise the balls to drop; like a grandfather clock that needs winding once each week maybe small huan effort can be turned into a more valuable form of energy.

  3. The Delta Yacht - Liviu... July 26, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    [...] relax and enjoy the sounds of the sea. The yacht’s roof is composed of two sections made from piezoelectric material that retract when the weather is at its finest, treating passengers to views of the surrounding [...]

  4. iessolar March 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I agree freezway. but the third question is, how long will it take to hit the market and I am guessing its going to be a long long time

  5. freezway March 19, 2010 at 1:33 am

    2 questions
    1. How much does it cost
    2. how much juice can it produce

  6. SeanB March 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    This exact thing has been on my mind lately…couldn’t the energy of sound be captured and converted into other forms of energy? If this material was in the muffler, for example…it could provide an alternative to traditional battery power.

  7. Nihilus March 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    This is quite interesting. Sounds like it has potential.

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