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Tomson Thomas
Tomson Thomas • Dec 16, 2015

'Hydricity' Could Be The Breakthrough In Solar Power Our World Needs

Developed by the scientists at Purdue University and the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, 'Hydricity' combines solar thermal plants with hydrogen production technology to synthesize energy at a greater scale and escalated efficiency. In this technique, a hybrid system uses solar energy to simultaneously generate steam by heating water, as well as hydrogen by electrolysis. The steam generated is used to run turbines as in a conventional solar thermal power plant, and the hydrogen produced is stored away for future use.

In our lifetime, we have all been witnesses to the world’s changing energy norms. We were part of the age of fossil fuels, and have seen and experienced the growth of clean energy sources and their increasing importance. These sources of clean energy include wind power, tidal energy, solar power, geothermal energy, etc. Out of all those, solar power has the highest availability, and is widely considered to be the most promising among said sources.

Solar power is mainly harnessed by using solar power cells which convert light into electricity, or solar thermal power plants, which use the sun’s heat to generate steam, which is then used to run turbines to produce electricity. Both these processes are only fairly efficient, with an average efficiency of around 30%. The fact that properly and efficiently harvested solar power could meet the world’s hunger for energy has inspired scientists and engineers to constantly strive for its betterment. Hydricity is one such attempt.

Fig. A conventional solar thermal plant

The overall efficiency of Hydricity, the team says, is 35%, with 50% efficiency in hydrogen production, and 46% efficiency in immediate electricity generation. The boost from the average 30% for solar thermal plants is achieved by a series of high pressure and low pressure turbines, connected successively.

What makes Hydricity even more attractive is the vast usefulness of the hydrogen produced by it. Other than having a variety of uses in quite a number of industries, it can also be used to keep the power plant operating at night and/or times of minimal sunlight. The fact that hydrogen can be safely stored for an extended period of time makes the deal that much sweeter.

Although there have only been simulations and laboratory based models of the process, the team behind it hopes to test it in the real world soon. Even though lab and real world results have a tendency to differ due to a variety of conditions, Hydricity is still expected to deliver on its promise of higher efficiency. It is safe to say that Hydricity will be an interesting milestone on the road to sustainable solar power.

Sources: ScienceAlert | PNAS
It is our bounden duty to reverse AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). 6 more birds of India have gone on the UN list as facing extinction.
We must look to non carbon sources for power.

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