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Grass That Really Is Greener

Grass is greenerResearchers have already devised ways to get energy from the sun, the wind and water—now add grass to the list.

The key to this breakthrough in alternative energy is hydrogen.  Scientists have long been intrigued by the possibilities of hydrogen as a fuel since it carries great amounts of energy (though it’s not an energy source), and is present in water, hydrocarbons and other organic matter all over the world.  It’s also emissions-free when burned.

The problem, until now, has been “unlocking” hydrogen from its natural sources, one of which is ordinary fescue grass (popular for home lawns), found on every continent except Antarctica.  In the past, separation methods have been labor-intensive and costly.

Now, researchers from Cardiff University in the U.K. have found a way to derive significant amounts of hydrogen from grass with the help of sunlight and a catalyst.  (Catalysts tested include palladium, gold and nickel.)  The process, known as photocatalysis, uses sunlight to activate the catalyst, which then converts the cellulose (a key component of plants) into hydrogen.

Researchers believe that this is the first experiment of its kind, and that the results could have a significant impact in the field of renewable energy.  Read the full story.

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