Eco Factor: Energy-efficient way to produce hydrogen from waste energy.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a novel way to generate hydrogen by breaking bonds of water using waste energy in the form of noise and stray vibrations. The scientists grew nanocrystals of two common crystals zinc oxide and barium titanate and placed them in water. When pulsed with ultrasonic vibrations, the nanofibers flexed and catalyzed a chemical reaction to split a water molecule into its constituents.
When these fibers are bent and released they create an electric potential, which is the driving force behind quartz clocks and other applications. So far, researchers have achieved an 18 percent efficiency with the nanocrystals that is much higher than other experimental sources of clean energy.
The fibers can be tuned to convert waste energy in the form of noise and vibrations into electrical energy, which rather than being harvested directly is used to break the bonds of water and generate oxygen and hydrogen.