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Renewable energy science fair project:
A system for alternative fuel production and storage using chicken feathers and fat

Science Fair Project Information
Title: A system for alternative fuel production and storage using chicken feathers and fat
Subject: Renewable Energy
Subcategory: Biodiesel
Grade level: High School - Grades 9-12
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Medium
Awards: Google Science Fair Finalist
Affiliation: Google Science Fair (GSF)
Year: 2015
Materials: Soxhlet extractor, chicken feathers, phenophtalein, Graham condenser, muffle furnace, general lab equipment
Techniques: Pyrolysis, transesterification, proximate analysis, esterification
Concepts: Hydrogen storage, carbon nanotubes
Description: It was found out that a two-reactor system would be the most energy-efficient and would produce both: hydrogen storage material (Carbon Nanotubes) and biodiesel from chicken feathers by using the same energy process. The system is made up of a pyrolysis reactor with an afterburner chamber that prevents energy loss, and a biodiesel reactor is connected to it. The biodiesel reactor is heated with the heat of pyrolysis process, but the gases do not interfere with the transesterification process as it has a two-layer structure. By using laboratory furnaces, the carbonized feather samples were tested by using proximate analysis and the results showed that the material produced is great for hydrogen storage.
Link: https://www.googlesciencefair.com/projects/en/2015/97aae00
Short Background

Carbon Nanotubes for Hydrogen Storage

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, significantly larger than for any other material. These cylindrical carbon molecules have unusual properties, which are valuable for nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science and technology. In particular, owing to their extraordinary thermal conductivity and mechanical and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes find applications as additives to various structural materials. For instance, nanotubes form a tiny portion of the material(s) in some (primarily carbon fiber) baseball bats, golf clubs, car parts or damascus steel.

In addition to being able to store electrical energy, there has been some research in using carbon nanotubes to store hydrogen to be used as a fuel source. By taking advantage of the capillary effects of the small carbon nanotubes, it is possible to condense gases in high density inside single-walled nanotubes. This allows for gases, most notably hydrogen (H2), to be stored at high densities without being condensed into a liquid. Potentially, this storage method could be used on vehicles in place of gas fuel tanks for a hydrogen-powered car. A current issue regarding hydrogen-powered vehicles is the on-board storage of the fuel. Current storage methods involve cooling and condensing the H2 gas to a liquid state for storage which causes a loss of potential energy (25–45%) when compared to the energy associated with the gaseous state. Storage using SWNTs would allow one to keep the H2 in its gaseous state, thereby increasing the storage efficiency. This method allows for a volume to energy ratio slightly smaller to that of current gas powered vehicles, allowing for a slightly lower but comparable range.

An area of controversy and frequent experimentation regarding the storage of hydrogen by adsorption in carbon nanotubes is the efficiency by which this process occurs. The effectiveness of hydrogen storage is integral to its use as a primary fuel source since hydrogen only contains about one fourth the energy per unit volume as gasoline. Studies however show that what is the most important is the surface area of the materials used. Hence activated carbon with surface area of 2600 m2/g can store up to 5,8% w/w. In all these carbonaceous materials, hydrogen is stored by physisorption at 70-90K.

See also:

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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