Exploring the mysteries of quantum mechanics surely seems like an endeavor that requires room-sized equipment and racks of electronics, along with large buckets of grant money, to accomplish. And while that’s generally true, there’s quite a lot that can be accomplished on a considerably more modest budget, as this as-simple-as-it-gets nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscope amply demonstrates.
First things first: Does the “magnetic resonance” part of “NMR” bear any relationship to magnetic resonance imaging? Indeed it does, as the technique of lining up nuclei in a magnetic field, perturbing them with an electromagnetic field, and receiving the resultant RF signals as the nuclei snap back to their original spin state lies at the heart of both. And while MRI scanners and the large NMR spectrometers used in analytical chemistry labs both use extremely powerful magnetic fields, [Andy Nicol] shows us that even the Earth’s magnetic field can be used for NMR.
[Andy]’s NMR setup couldn’t be simpler. It consists of a coil of enameled copper wire wound on a 40 mm PVC tube and a simple control box with nothing more than a switch and a couple of capacitors. The only fancy bit is a USB audio interface, which is used to amplify and digitize the 2-kHz-ish signal generated by hydrogen atoms when they precess in Earth’s extremely weak magnetic field. A tripod stripped of all ferrous metal parts is also handy, as this setup needs to be outdoors where interfering magnetic fields can be minimized. In use, the coil is charged with a LiPo battery for about 10 seconds before being rapidly switched to the input of the USB amp. The resulting resonance signal is visualized using the waterfall display on SDR#.
[Andy] includes a lot of helpful tips in his excellent write-up, like tuning the coil with capacitors, minimizing noise, and estimating the exact resonance frequency expected based on the strength of the local magnetic field. It’s a great project and a good explanation of how NMR works. And it’s nowhere near as loud as an MRI scanner.
Multirotor drones have become a regular part of daily life, serving as everything from camera platforms to inspection tools and weapons of war. The vast majority run on lithium rechargeable batteries, with corresponding limits on flight time. A company called Hylium hopes to change all that with a hydrogen-powered drone that can fly for up to five hours.
The drone uses a hydrogen fuel cell to provide electricity to run the drone’s motors and other electronic systems. Thanks to the energy density advantage of hydrogen versus lithium batteries, the flight time can be greatly extended compared to conventional battery-only drones. Details are scant, but the company has gone to some lengths to build out the product beyond a simple tech demonstrator, too. Hylium touts useful features like the short five-minute refueling time. The drone also reportedly features a night vision camera and the capability to transmit video over distances up to 10 kilometers, though some of the video of these features appears to be stock footage.
Hylium claims the liquid hydrogen canister used for the drone is drop-safe in the event of a problem. Notably, the video suggests the company tested this by dropping the canister concerningly close to an active motorway, but from what we see, nothing went awry.
A drone that can fly for five hours would be particularly useful for autonomous surveillance and inspection roles. The additional loiter time would be advantageous in these roles. We’ve seen other aero experimenters exploring the use of hydrogen fuel cells, too.
Continue reading “Drone Flies For Five Hours With Hydrogen Fuel Cell” →
Hydrogen is a useful gas. Whether you want to float an airship, fuel a truck, or heat an industrial process, hydrogen can do the job. However, producing it is currently a fraught issue. While it can be produced cleanly using renewable energy, it’s often much cheaper to split it out of hydrocarbon fuels using processes that generate significant pollution.
There are methods to generate hydrogen more efficiently, though, in a clean and sustainable process. that also produces useful heat and oxygen as byproducts. The key to the process? Concentrated sunshine.
Continue reading “Making Hydrogen With Solar Energy, With Oxygen And Heat A Bonus” →
In the automotive world, batteries are quickly becoming the energy source of the future. For heavier-duty tasks, though, they simply don’t cut the mustard. Their energy density, being a small fraction of that of liquid fuels, just can’t get the job done. In areas like these, hydrogen holds some promise as a cleaner fuel of the future.
Universal Hydrogen hopes that hydrogen will do for aviation what batteries can’t. The company has been developing flight-ready fuel cells for this exact purpose, and has begun test flights towards that very goal.
Continue reading “Largest Ever Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plane Takes Flight” →
Generally, when we talk about the production of hydrogen, the discussion is about either electrolysis of water into oxygen and hydrogen, or steam methane reforming (SMR). Although electrolysis is often mentioned – as it can create hydrogen using nothing but water and electricity – SMR is by far the most common source of hydrogen. Much of this is due to the low cost and high efficiency of SMR, but a major disadvantage of SMR is that :slider
large amounts of carbon dioxide are released, which offsets some of the benefits of using hydrogen as a fuel in the first place.
Although capturing this CO2 can be considered as a potential solution here, methane pyrolysis is a newer method that promises to offer the same benefits as SMR while also producing hydrogen and carbon, rather than CO2. With the many uses for hydrogen in industrial applications and other fields, such as the manufacturing of fertilizer, a direct replacement for SMR that produces green hydrogen would seem almost too good to be true.
What precisely is this methane pyrolysis, and what can be expect from it the coming years?
Continue reading “Methane Pyrolysis: Producing Green Hydrogen Without Carbon Emissions” →
Electric cars are very much en vogue right now, as the world tries to clean up on emissions and transition to a more sustainable future. However, these vehicles require huge batteries as it is. For heavier-duty applications like trucks and trains, batteries simply won’t cut the mustard.
Normally, the solution for electrifying railways is to simply string up some wires and call it a day. China is trying an alternative solution, though, in the form of a hydrogen-powered train full of supercapacitors.
Continue reading “China’s New 100 MPH Train Runs On Hydrogen And Supercaps” →
Hydrogen has long been touted as a potential fuel of the future. While it’s failed to catch on in cars as batteries have taken a strong lead, it still holds great promise for larger vehicles like trucks.
Hyundai have been working diligently in this space over the last few years, with its Xcient line of fuel-cell powered trucks. It’s set to dominate the world of hydrogen trucking in the US as it brings a fleet of vehicles to California next year.
Continue reading “Hyundai To Lead US Market For Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks” →