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Using cerium oxide to create solar energy

Newer and more exciting devices are being invented to harness renewable energy – especially solar energy. One such device is a prototype which uses one of the rare earth metals – ceria, otherwise known cerium oxide – utilizing its natural propensity of alternatively exhaling and inhaling oxygen as it heats up or cools down.
Formulated by US & Swiss researchers, this prototype has a quartz window and a small cavity to focus sunlight on a ceria-filled cylinder. With water and/or carbon dioxide being pumped into the vessel, hydrogen and/or carbon monoxide are created. Hydrogen by itself is used in hydrogen cells and by mixing hydrogen and carbon monoxide, fuel syngas can be produced.
As against the conventional photovoltaic cells, hydrogen and syngas are fuels which can be stored, are portable and can be used any time. The metal ceria is abundantly available being the most commonly found rare-earth metal. Professor Sossina Haile, from California Institute of Technology, has claimed that ceria is most suited for this process and fit for massive-scale production of fuels like hydrogen and syngas. She also said that saying that this prototype mimics plants’ photosynthesis is too generalized and over simplistic though the basic ingredients and working may be the same.
Daniel Davies, from Solar Century, a British firm called the research as ‘exciting’. The possibility of large-scale production and portability of the fuel are the plus points of this device according to him. But Professor Haile strongly contends that making or marring of this and other such prototypes depends very much on national and state-level carbon policy.

Source: www.alternative-energy-news.info/ceria-mimics-plant-life/

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Short URL: http://solar-magazine.com/?p=633

Posted by on Mar 29 2011. Filed under INDUSTRY, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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