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Facebook to Explore Using AI to Help Store Renewable Energy

Facebook, partnering with Carnegie Mellon University, launched the Open Catalyst Project to find cost-effective ways to store and use renewable energy.

Facebook  (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report is developing artificial-intelligence tools in its data centers to help scientists find new ways to store and use renewable energy.

In partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, the Menlo Park, Calif., social-media giant launched the Open Catalyst Project, to speed the use of wind and solar energy using low-cost catalysts.

The idea is to discover so-called electrocatalysts that can provide a more efficient and scalable way to store and use renewable energy, Facebook AI research scientist Larry Zitnick said in a blog post

"To achieve this, we are developing AI that will accurately predict atomic interactions dramatically faster than the compute-heavy simulations scientists rely on today. 

"Calculations that take modern laboratories days could, with the help of AI, take seconds," the company said in a blog post

Regular ways to store renewable energy could take days, weeks and months, and while most people instinctively think of batteries for energy storage, they are an expensive proposition, Zitnick explained.

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Facebook and Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Chemical Engineering want to use chemical reactions to convert excess solar and wind energy into other fuels that can be stored more easily, such as hydrogen or ethanol

"Unfortunately, current methods for doing so are inefficient or rely on rare and expensive electrocatalysts like platinum, limiting their practicality," Facebook added.

"Our goal with the Open Catalyst Project is to discover low-cost catalysts to drive these chemical reactions." 

If successful, this research has the potential to significantly accelerate the global shift toward renewable energy, removing the high costs associated with it.

In September Facebook said it set up a Climate Science Information Center to address the issue of climate change.

The company wants to achieve zero net emissions by 2030.

Shares of Facebook were off 1.1% to $273.08 at last check.