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Published on November 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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Renewable Natural Gas from CO2, Water, & Sunlight

November 25th, 2011 by  


HyperSolar has filed a patent application for a “breakthrough technology” that creates renewable natural gas from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

natural gas from sunlight co2 water

“This renewable natural gas is a clean, carbon-neutral methane gas that can be used as a direct replacement for traditional natural gas to power the world, without drilling or fracking, while mitigating CO2 emissions,” the company reports.

Well, it certainly sounds good.

Is it legit?

We’ll have to wait to find out, but here’s more from the news release:

“Inspired by the photosynthetic processes that plants use to harness the power of the sun to create energy molecules, HyperSolar is developing a novel solar-powered nanoparticle system that mimics photosynthesis to separate hydrogen from water. The free hydrogen can then be reacted with carbon dioxide to produce methane, the primary component in natural gas.”

The company certainly thinks it’s on the money. “We intend to focus all our energies and resources on commercializing this breakthrough technology,” HyperSolar CEO Tim Young announced.

Good luck to the patent reviewers — the title is “Photoelectrochemically active heterostructures, methods for their manufacture, and methods and systems for producing desired products.” The patent application “discloses the company’s novel low cost manufacturing techniques, nanostructure innovations for high efficiency, and the use of freely available sunlight, waste water and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen, methane, and other valuable chemical products,” the company reported in a second news release.

More from Young:

For almost a century, scientists have tried and failed to ‘split water’ cost effectively to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Our process does not produce oxygen (O2), which has no significant value and is an expensive and slow reaction. Unlike conventional electrolysis, where hydrogen and oxygen atoms are completely disassociated using a large voltage, we designed our reactions to use a very small voltage and only produce hydrogen (H2).

By elegantly engineering the reaction kinetics toward hydrogen generation in conjunction with wastewater, our nanoparticles function as one-way machines that detoxify wastewater, and produce clean water and pure hydrogen in the presence of sunlight…. No other energy source is required, making this an extremely economical and commercially viable approach to hydrogen production — hence, renewable natural gas production.

The whole process occurs at a normal temperature and pressure.

“To achieve world scale operation, HyperSolar envisions acres of very inexpensive reactors installed on vacant, non-productive land, producing massive amounts of carbon neutral methane that can be piped into the existing natural gas infrastructure for everyday use in homes, power plants, factories, and vehicles.”

Breakthrough? Might be. I’ll be keeping my eye on HyperSolar. 
 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.



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