“How can we have a completely passive thermal cooling mechanism?”
Thermal cooling is often required in many cases. But sometimes an active cooling solution may not be appropriate. So how can we have truly passive cooling? Well, what if we were to have a pipe with a working fluid, and have it constructed such that the heat source will heat up the medium to evaporation, which then moves along the pipe until it cools down and condensates, turning back into its original form and repeating the process? These are known as Heat Pipes and are an interesting application of passive cooling.
Photo credit www.myheatsinks.com
The Hydrogen Economy
“How can hydrogen power the industrial sector?”
In the 20th century, there was much talk about the “hydrocarbon technology”, where petroleum was the primary driver of industry. Whether it be the plastics made for common use or the oil that powered our cars, petroleum was everywhere. But with the advent of climate change, experts have agreed that we need to shift to a new model. This has caused the alternative idea of The Hydrogen Economy to surface, which is based off less pollution-intensive natural gas.
Image credit Triple Pundit https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjs4aDcoJbdAhVkwcQHHYdFDlcQjhx6BAgBEAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.triplepundit.com%2F2016%2F10%2Fu-s-pumps-30-million-hydrogen-economy%2F&psig=AOvVaw22-p3fdXOe8Ut07RIJ-p62&ust=1535769328455768
“How do buildings react to temperature changes?”
We have a conundrum. Temperatures change throughout the day, but inside a building it’s supposed to stay constant. And since some buildings are better about it than others, how can we quantify this phenomenon? Well, since this concept is a lot like inertia, Architectural Engineers have decided to call this Thermal Mass.
Hydrogen Production from Fermentation
“How can we produce hydrogen from fermentation?”
Hydrogen is usually extracted via mechanical means. But there is also a biological alternative. It turns out that microbial matter can break down organic matter such as sugars or raw biomass. Through this method we can obtain Hydrogen Production from Fermentation. This is also commonly known as dark fermentation since no light is required.
How to Produce Hydrogen Gas using Ethanol
“How can we produce Hydrogen Gas using Ethanol?”
Natural Gas Reformation is currently the most popular way to produce hydrogen gas. However, a large amount of greenhouse gases are released in the process, contributing to climate change. So is there a more sustainable way to produce hydrogen gas? Well, it turns out that Ethanol is an amazing substitute for natural gas! Therefore, we can Produce Hydrogen Gas using Ethanol.
Hydrogen Production through Electrolysis
“How can we produce hydrogen using electricity?”
Hydrogen is an amazing material. However, extracting it can be quite difficult. One way to do it is to take an anode and a cathode separated by an electrolyte and a membrane. The water will react at the anode to produce oxygen and positively charged hydrogen ions. The electrons will flow through the circuit and the hydrogen ions will move across the membrane to the cathode side. They will then meet and recombine to form hydrogen molecules. This way, we can Produce Hydrogen using Electrolysis. Since the only thing that needs to be added to the system is electricity, if our grid is powered by renewables then we can have a carbon neutral method of hydrogen production!
Image credit Department of Energy
Natural Gas Reforming
“How can we obtain Hydrogen from Natural Gas?”
Hydrogen is just as difficult to extract as it is useful. But luckily, there is one method which is able to produce it in a cost effective manner. Most of this is done in a process where high-temperature steam (700°C–1,000°C) is combined with a methane source such as Natural Gas under high pressures (around 2-35 bar) to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide. This process is known as Natural Gas Reforming and is used to create 95% of the natural gas supplies in the U.S.
Image Credit: ceram.material.tohoku.ac.