Fracking Alternative

tony leather By tony leather, 25th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/18qe589g/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Energy

Environmental activists claim that this process poses huge risks to both the cleanliness of drinking water and to public health, stating that the potential for deep underground water contamination makes the fracking process an environmental nightmare.

Fracking Alternative


Drilling for natural gas has become more controversial to environmentalists since the introduction of hydraulic fracturing o, dubbed fracking by the media, in which chemicals mixed in with high-pressure water are used, releasing the gas for piping into the system.
Environmental activists claim that this process poses huge risks to both the cleanliness of drinking water and to public health, stating that the potential for deep underground water contamination makes the fracking process an environmental nightmare.
Now, an alternative may be at hand, because the CEO of HyperSolar Incorporated, Tim Young announced that his tech company has developed a method for making natural gas that employs the biggest free energy provider of all, in the form of sunlight.
Not only does the process create natural gas, but it can also clean waste water into the bargain, which may mean that, in time, the need for fracking will disappear. The Santa Barbara-based company believe that as ever more people around the world consume energy, lots more wastewater will be available to make renewable natural gas in this way.

What happens is that millions of nano-particles, containing semiconductor materials are fed into the water, each one acting as a self-contained photo electrochemical system. When hit by sunlight, the particles generate an electric charge which drives a chemical reaction, creating hydrogen at the cathode and oxidizing water at the anode.

The hydrogen gas produced is mixed with CO2 to form methane, main component of natural gas, whilst the oxidation cleans the water. Since the particles can be configured, as required, to remove certain materials from the water, the potential for using other compounds to produce pure chemicals for re-sale is very large indeed.
These chemical reactions have been designed to take place at normal pressures and temperatures, allowing the reactors to be simple and low-cost, like glass vessels. HyperSolar envisions the scaling up of operations via the installation, on available non-productive land of rows of inexpensive reactors.
Carbon-neutral methane produced by these plants could then be piped into the existing natural gas infrastructure, meaning that all kinds of consumers could use it. The company has patented this process, and is currently completing development of the nano-particles, the cost of which they hope to reduce substantially.
The technology is hoped to be on the market in three to five years, though Yale University professor Gary Brudvig, a specialist in alternative energy is doubtful. He says that the process certainly will nott have the capacity to replace fracking because it is based on biomass, though the potential to clean wastewater is a compelling argument in favour of it..
The use of solar light as the single energy input employed to generate methane would make it a very clean fuel source indeed, and it seems that many other research groups are pursuing the same objective, though demonstrating an efficient process a large enough scale is still some way off, though if it does become reality, then future energy needs issues may finally be addressed.

Tags

Alternatives, Energy, Fracking, Gas, Generation

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author avatar tony leather
mainly non-fiction articles, though I do write short stories, poetry and descriptive prose as well. Have been writing for over ten years now

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