Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Producing Better Solar Collectors - Chinese Scientists and Butterfly Wings

Interesting story about the nano-scale structure of butterfly wings. Butterfly wings' 'art of blackness' could boost production of green fuels This has to do with using a catalyst and sunlight to break water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. (See the solar leaf for more on that.)
One promising technology involves producing clean-burning hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. It can be done in devices that use sunlight to kick up the activity of catalysts that split water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. Better solar collectors are the key to making the technology practical, and Fan's team turned to butterfly wings in their search for making solar collectors that gather more useful light.
The inky black on some butterfly's wings isn't just a pretty color. The bugs are gathering solar energy to heat their bodies. Turns out the nano-scale structures of the wings are great for concentrating energy.
The butterfly-wing compound catalyst produced hydrogen gas from water at more than twice the rate of the unstructured compound catalyst on its own.
While I don't think much of hydrogen power for cars - too hard to store in volume, too problematic in a crash, etc. - I do like the idea of a hydrogen power generator for my home. Especially if I can generate my own hydrogen on sunny days for use in the evening or on days it isn't so sunny.

I'm not going all tree-hugger on you. I would just like a little independence. From the power company.

And I leave you with this, from Machines of Loving Grace...


You can't place faith in material things
material things will fail you
a hurricane triggered by a butterfly's wings
your conspirators betray you

Don't place faith in human beings
human beings are unreliable things
don't place faith in human beings
human beings or butterfly's wings

You can't place faith in a new regime
that fascist faith will kill you
a hurricane triggered by a butterfly's wings
your conspirators betray you

don't place faith in human beings
human beings are unreliable things
don't place faith in human beings
human beings or butterfly wings

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