[Paleopsych] Nanotechnology could promote hydrogen economy
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Wed Mar 30 14:03:17 UTC 2005
This reminds me of a story my brother told me. He had modeled hydrogen
storage in carbon nanotubes, and at a conference he was asked about it.
He replied that he didn't think it was feasible, that his modeling
studies showed it wasn't. He was skeptical about the possibility of
hydrogen being a transportation fuel. Afterwards, the guys who asked
came up and offered him a grant. (I think they were from LiquideAire or
a competitor) He was surprised and asked why they'd offer him money when
he didn't think that was the right direction. They replied that they
appreciated his honesty. They found that generally the hydrogen field
was full of people who were full of enthusiasm for unrealistic models.
Frank posted recently about how scientists are constrained by unwritten
norms of what is allowed and what is forbidden. It is an ongoing
problem. Groups don't like core beliefs to be challenged, yet these are
precisely what keeps us from seeing the next step. In psychology there
is this big push toward Empirically Validated Treatments, aping physical
medicine, yet Wampold and others have shown conclusively that there is
no significant difference in distinct treatments because it is not the
technique of treatment that actually heals the patient, it is the common
factors. This will be a huge shift of the psychology paradigm, and one
that will come only slowly, and the old true believers die off.
PS: RE: Zombies, Paul, did you read Frank's posting of the David Brooks
piece on Schievo from NYT? It was excellent, and points out the ethical
trouble with characterization of brain-disabled people as vegetables
(or, more pejoratively, corpses). It is an ugly business on both sides,
both the pro-life and right-to-die people have some holes in their own
Paul J. Werbos, Dr. wrote:
> At 07:16 AM 3/30/2005, Steve Hovland wrote:
>> Contact: Carl Blesch
>> cblesch at ur.rutgers.edu <mailto:cblesch at ur.rutgers.edu>
>> 732-932-7084 x616
>> Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey <http://www.rutgers.edu>
>> NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Say "nanotechnology" and people are
>> to think of micro machines or zippy computer chips. But in a new twist,
>> Rutgers scientists are using nanotechnology in chemical reactions that
>> could provide hydrogen for tomorrow's fuel-cell powered clean energy
> Upon careful analysis of this technological effort, I find it hard to
> silence the voice
> which responds in only one word:
> The only really serious scientific puzzles are : "How can an organism
> be so stupid?
> Is there any hope for survival for an endangered species which thinks
> this way?"
> It is not obvious that there is even a qualitative difference in
> clarity of thinking between the
> organisms that want to devote their lives to secure feeding tubes for
> corpses and
> those who believe in the fundamentalist form of the hydrogen religion
> after all these years.
> (Re the former, I had a kind of dream image last night of a kind of
> church choir
> singing a hymn praying to have their zombie back, and a smiling
> Frankenstein in the middle...)
> Actually, when the purist hydrogen wave was shoved in our faces
> particularly hard a couple
> of year ago, I did try to think hard about how to give it maximum
> possible benefit of the doubt.
> And -- biased myself by the VERY heavy political pressures -- I did
> even discuss a bit about
> the hope for nanotube-based hydrogen storage to solve ONE of the
> in the initial version of my energy paper in the 2003 State of the
> But... there are all the others, and they don't add up.
> For example, see the chicken and egg slide at
> And there are those who pretend that thousand year eggs are real...
> We don't HAVE a thousand years here.
> Furthermore, cost and efficiency problems are overwhelming --
> and, above all, there are three long-term alternatives all far more
> sustainable, and near at hand. The purist version of hydrogen economy
> is an effective rationalization for going to sleep, when we do have ways
> to really solve our problems much closer at hand. One wonders who
> supports this out of a desire to keep the rest of us asleep.
> And indeed, there are certain folks who exploit other fundamentalist
> in a similar cynical way.
> There are some perverse nonlinear effects here. The whole is greater
> than the sum of the parts,
> and the collective level of insanity is often greater than the sum of
> the insanities of
> individual humans. The previous paragraph gives ONE example of how
> this works:
> ambitious people with very narrow blinders (focusing so hard in one
> direction they ignore what's
> coming to eat them out of left field) manipulating other socially
> responsive people who
> trust the manipulators more than they should. In fact... the total
> failure of the
> Clinton-Gore energy independence efforts reflect this same phenomenon,
> albeit in a slightly different way.
> In fact,, I have a very vivid memory from 1994, walking out of Gore's
> house (after the first bug
> White House PNGV conference)... and hearing an explanation from his
> key OSTP
> on this... of their policy of maintaining a simple party line at all
> times... it was a very conscious
> philosophy. Unlike some of the corpse-feeders, they were very very
> open to fun rambling discussions..
> which is deceptive... because they were not really open to reality.
> Good vibes... well...
> it reminds me of the issue people have raised about trying to balance
> the principles of love and
> of truth, and about how people lose it if they chose one over the other.
> In the end, if humanity in general is too fuzzy to take out its mental
> trash on this issue,
> on its own, I have a gut feeling that the problem will be taken care
> of anyway... at a price.
> At a severe price.
> But... the clock ticks...
>> In a paper to be published April 20 in the Journal of the American
>> Society, researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,
>> describe how they make a finely textured surface of the metal iridium
>> can be used to extract hydrogen from ammonia, then captured and fed to a
>> fuel cell. The metal's unique surface consists of millions of
>> pyramids with
>> facets as tiny as five nanometers (five billionths of a meter)
>> across, onto
>> which ammonia molecules can nestle like matching puzzle pieces. This
>> up the molecules to undergo complete and efficient decomposition.
>> "The nanostructured surfaces we're examining are model catalysts,"
>> said Ted
>> Madey, State of New Jersey professor of surface science in the physics
>> department at Rutgers. "They also have the potential to catalyze
>> reactions for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries."
>> A major obstacle to establishing the "hydrogen economy" is the safe and
>> cost-effective storage and transport of hydrogen fuel. The newly
>> process could contribute to the solution of this problem. Handling
>> in its native form, as a light and highly flammable gas, poses daunting
>> engineering challenges and would require building a new fuel
>> infrastructure from scratch.
>> By using established processes to bind hydrogen with atmospheric
>> into ammonia molecules (which are simply one atom of nitrogen and three
>> atoms of hydrogen), the resulting liquid could be handled much like
>> gasoline and diesel fuel. Then using nanostructured catalysts based
>> on the
>> one being developed at Rutgers, pure hydrogen could be extracted
>> under the
>> vehicle's hood on demand, as needed by the fuel cell, and the remaining
>> nitrogen harmlessly released back into the atmosphere. The carbon-free
>> nature of ammonia would also make the fuel cell catalyst less
>> to deactivation.
>> When developing industrial catalysts, scientists and engineers have
>> traditionally focused on how fast they could drive a chemical
>> reaction. In
>> such situations, however, catalysts often drive more than one reaction,
>> yielding unwanted byproducts that have to be separated out. Also,
>> traditional catalysts sometimes lose strength in the reaction process.
>> Madey says that these problems could be minimized by tailoring
>> nanostructured metal surfaces on supported industrial catalysts,
>> making new
>> forms of catalysts that are more robust and selective.
>> In the journal article, Madey and postdoctoral research fellow Wenhua
>> and physics graduate student Ivan Ermanoski describe how a flat
>> surface of
>> iridium heated in the presence of oxygen changes its shape to make
>> arrays of nanosized pyramids. The structures arise when atomic forces
>> the adjacent oxygen atoms pull metal atoms into a more tightly ordered
>> crystalline state at temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius (or
>> approximately 600 degrees Fahrenheit). Different annealing temperatures
>> create different sized facets, which affect how well the iridium
>> ammonia decomposition. The researchers are performing additional
>> studies to
>> characterize the process more completely.
>> The Rutgers researchers are conducting their work in the university's
>> Laboratory for Surface Modification, which provides a focus for research
>> into atomic-level phenomena that occur on the surface of solids. It
>> involves the overlapping disciplines of physics, chemistry, materials
>> science and engineering. Their work is supported in part by grants
>> from the
>> U. S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
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