High-level Nuclear Waste
“What is the highest level of nuclear waste?”
During nuclear power generation, the energy in the fuel rods will become used up. Although it will no longer be effective in creating electricity, it will still be extremely radioactive. The most dangerous form of this is known as High-level Nuclear Waste. High-level nuclear waste must be carefully isolated in strong containers such as water entrapment systems to prevent any form of leakage.
Image credit https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com
Quantum Dots for Solar Panels
“Why are quantum dots for solar panels so useful?”
Quantum dots are bringing a revolution into the world of semiconductors. And since semiconductors are the backbones of solar panels, things will be greatly changed for them as well. The extra emissivity offered by quantum dots means that two and possibly three electrons can be generated for every photon received, vastly increasing its potential! Quantum dot solar panels can achieve as much as 65% efficiency, nearly double of the theoretical limit of normal panels. This is why Quantum Dots for Solar Panels are so exciting.
Image link https://upload.wikimedia.org
“What is the next big revolution in semiconductors?”
Semiconductors technology is going through a revolution. Nanosize semiconductor materials known as Quantum Dots which can give off light when illuminated are starting to be developed. Their small size allows them to be much more efficient than typical semiconductors and can give off a broader range of lights.
Image credit i.ytimg.com
The Works of Marie M. Daly
“Why is the work of Marie M. Daly (the first Black American Woman to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry in the United States) so important?”
During her lifetime, Marie M. Daly was a prolific scientist. Trained as a Biochemist from Columbia University, she sought to understand the fundamental workings of the human body. During her career, she uncovered many of its secrets such as methods for the fractionalization of nuclear material to separate the essentials of a cell into its various components, The role of ribonucleoprotein in protein synthesis (which was later used in Watson and Crick’s discoveries of DNA structure), as well as work on cholesterol, hypertension, and creatine. In short, The Works of Marie M. Daly are paramount to our collective understanding of human biochemistry.
Image credit Balis, M. E., Samarth, K. D., Hamilton, M. G., & Petermann, M. L. (1958). Role of the ribonucleoprotein particle in protein synthesis and the effects of growth hormone. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 233(5), 1152-1155.
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.
How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?
“How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?”
Hydrogen Fuel (H2) is an invaluable resource. Whether it be for powering hydrogen fuel cell batteries or making agricultural fertilizer. However, because of its special bonding properties, pure hydrogen is incredibly difficult to extract. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, there are a number of different ways. Natural gas can be reacted with high-temperature steam to for water to create H2 and Co, a very high power electric current can split water into dihydrogen and oxygen, Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, can be reacted with high-temperature steam to obtain H2, and biological fermentation can occur. In the end there are many ways to make our desired fuel in a safe and economical manner.