Thursday, 24 February 2011

new hydrogen fuel: solution or new problem

Yesterday I read of a new Hydrogen based fuel which may solve our energy problems by making a pumpable fuel that could be combusted in regular car engines.

I encourage you to read this article here.

The article suggests that the makers solve the issue of storing hydrogen by:
The company has a found a low-cost way to trap the hydride compound inside a nano-porous polymer micro bead.

The result is a revolutionary synthetic fuel, which is formed of ‘micro-beads’ that can be poured and pumped like a liquid.

Which is interesting.

However while nano technology has been around in theoretical areas for the last 30 years (and more recently we see manufactured examples, people are still getting their hear around what it actually means. People seldom grasp that these nano particles are actually tiny compared to even the cells which make up our bodies. Combine this with the VAST quantity in which nano materials need to exist in and you have the potential for some unexpected side effects.

For example from Wikipedia:

Some of the recently developed nanoparticle products may have unintended consequences. Researchers have discovered that silver nanoparticles used in socks only to reduce foot odor are being released in the wash with possible negative consequences.[40] Silver nanoparticles, which are bacteriostatic, may then destroy beneficial bacteria which are important for breaking down organic matter in waste treatment plants or farms.[41]
A study at the University of Rochester found that when rats breathed in nanoparticles, the particles settled in the brain and lungs, which led to significant increases in biomarkers for inflammation and stress response.[42] A study in China indicated that nanoparticles induce skin aging through oxidative stress in hairless mice.[43][44]
A two-year study at UCLA's School of Public Health found lab mice consuming nano-titanium dioxide showed DNA and chromosome damage to a degree "linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging".[45]
A major study published more recently in Nature Nanotechnology suggests some forms of carbon nanotubes – a poster child for the “nanotechnology revolution” – could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities. Anthony Seaton of the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, who contributed to the article on carbon nanotubes said "We know that some of them probably have the potential to cause mesothelioma. So those sorts of materials need to be handled very carefully."[46] In the absence of specific nano-regulation forthcoming from governments, Paull and Lyons (2008) have called for an exclusion of engineered nanoparticles from organic food.[47] A newspaper article reports that workers in a paint factory developed serious lung disease and nanoparticles were found in their lungs.[48]

Just like a bottle can become dangerous broken glass Nano particles can become hazards at a cellular level ... and remember, these things don't brake down in the natural environment because they are not natural. So we may end up creating a new pollution which will outlast even the pollution of a radioactive leak.

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