Saturday, June 27, 2009

Storing hydrogen in carbonized chicken feathers to save the planet?

Hey all:

This one is so cool, after I laughed at reading it I just had to pass it on.

It has been long obvious to me and to many (such as a personal friend and former Mechanical Engineering professor at Portland State University) that a hydrogen economy would be a boon to solve the world's concerns about fossil fuels for transportation - if only the storage problem could be solved.

The beauty of hydrogen gas as a fuel is that its combustion product is simply water vapor - preferable even to the carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) combustion product of natural gas. The problem is that extremely large tanks would be needed to store hydrogen gas even under high pressure. Some folks have succeeded in reducing the storage size significantly by storing hydrogen gas in carbon nanotubes, but the cost of the nanotube tank would be several times the cost of a car with today's nanotechnology.

And now today I saw on page one of the Oregonian that one potential answer may lie in carbonizing the lowly chicken feather:


http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/06/feathered_fuel_tank_soaks_up_h.html

The research, done at the University of Delaware, was reported in the university's paper a couple of days ago:


http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2009/jun/feathers062309.html


in which it was reported:


"Chicken feather fibers are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. When heated, this protein creates crosslinks, which strengthen its structure, and becomes more porous, increasing its surface area. The net result is carbonized chicken feather fibers, which can absorb as much or perhaps more hydrogen than carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides, two other materials being studied for their hydrogen storage potential, Wool says. Plus, they're cheap. Using carbonized chicken feathers would only add about $200 to the price of a car, according to Wool. By comparison, making a 20-gallon hydrogen fuel tank that uses carbon nanotubes could cost $5.5 million; one that uses metal hydrides could cost up to $30,000, Wool says."

So why would I blog on this today? First - yeah, even creationists are interested in the planet. Duhhhh. Second - the combined strength and light weight of feathers (due in part to the keratin protein and in part to structural design) have long been considered by creationists as a powerful example of design in nature. And not only are feathers a mechanical wonder, they can also be wonders of beauty. Here is my backyard photo of a peacock feather:

So - strength, functionality, and beauty - all are to be found in God's created world because they were created for those purposes. If you don't like that answer, go use your superior intelligence to make a better feather.

Recall again the words of Job 12:7-10 (Holy Bible, NASB):

7. "But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. 8. "Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. 9. "Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, 10. In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?"

Submitted with great pleasure and satisfaction,

D.U.

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