Zhiyu Hu believes it is possible to match natures highly efficient method to convert chemicals into thermal energy at room temperature, and he has data and a published paper to support his theory.
In a paper scheduled to appear in the May 18 print issue of the American Chemical Societys Energy & Fuels, Oak Ridge National Laboratorys Hu describes a novel method to achieve spontaneous ignition and sustained combustion at room temperature. He achieves this "nano-catalytic reaction" with nothing but nanometer-sized particles of platinum stuck to fibers of glass wool in a small jar with methanol and air – with no source of external ignition.
Although this began as little more than a curiosity, Hu quickly realized that the implications could be significant because of the potential gains in energy conversion and utilization. Hu now cites possibilities in the area of distributed power generation and perhaps military and homeland defense.
Ron Walli | EurekAlert!
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