What we learned this week

Here’s a moment I’ve been waiting for – Sainsbury’s is the first British supermarket to stock an insect based product. Supermarkets won’t waste shelf space, so they’ve done their research and found that 1 in 5 of their customers see the value in eating insects.

A company called Electriq is launching a ‘water-based’ fuel for electric cars. Can someone with more chemistry knowledge (ie almost anyone) have a look at their website and tell me if it sounds feasible?

BRE and the Green Building Council, the world’s two leading sustainable building organisations, have announced that they are to work together. So far there’s little detail about what the partnership will involve, but I am hoping that it might be a step towards a global standard for sustainable architecture.

Shaun Chamberlin talks eloquently about Extinction Rebellion and why he got arrested last week, Desmog note the spread of its international groups. Vice takes a good balanced look from across the pond, while The Spectator lazily labels it a communist plot.

This week I read USA Today. I really like the streamlined front page and complete absence of clutter. An exemplary reading experience. Sticking with America for now and to get a full spread of opinions, I’m going to read Breitbart next week.


  1. This seems to be the heart of Electriq’s catalyst patent:
    it was surprisingly found that once the Co—Ni—P alloy was deposited on a porous support on which an organic molecule, e.g., 8,16-pyranthrenedione, was already deposited, thereby forming the catalyst of this invention, the hydrogen evolution rate is further increased (see Example 1, Section D, in which the hydrogen evolution rate is 6.7 ml/(minutes×cm2 of catalyst area)).
    In translation; a organic (dye??) molecule, and a copper/nickel/phosporus alloy (all reasonably low cost metals) seems to make a good catalyst to speed up release of hydrogen from BH4. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating?

  2. Here’s another go at posting my previous comment (previously blocked for having links in):
    Regarding ‘water’ cars, the key is the Boron Hydride (BH₄) dissolved in the water. BH₄ (basically 4 hydrogens stuck to each boron atom; see the helpful 3D picture on Wikipedia) is known as a molecule that can release hydrogen, but the historic problem is whether you can release it quickly enough. Terragenic (now renamed Electriq) have patents on catalysts, claiming to speed the process up successfully. TU Delft have an article (worth reading) which seems agnostic on how justified the claims are. Perhaps we have to say ‘jury still out’? We should also keep a watch on competing hydrogen storage/release technologies, e.g. ammonia. I imagine asking Chris Goodall (if he has the time to respond?) would be very enlightening, regarding technical and economic feasibility…
    TU Delft https://www(dot)delta(dot)tudelft(dot)nl/article/terragenic-hydrogen-solution
    Wikipedia https://en(dot)wikipedia(dot)org/wiki/Borohydride

    1. Thanks for the explanation, and apologies for the lost comments. I don’t seem to have any way to have trusted commenters who are allowed to post links… I’ll wait and see how things go with Electriq.

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