Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wisconsin team engineers hydrogen from biomass

29.08.2002


In the search for a nonpolluting energy source, hydrogen is often cited as a potential source of unlimited clean power. But hydrogen is only as clean as the process used to make it. Currently, most hydrogen is made from fossil fuels like natural gas using multi-step and high-temperature processes.



Now, chemical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new process that produces hydrogen fuel from plants. This source of hydrogen is non-toxic, non-flammable and can be safely transported in the form of sugars.

Writing this week (Aug. 29) in the journal Nature, research scientist Randy Cortright, graduate student Rupali Davda and professor James Dumesic describe a process by which glucose, the same energy source used by most plants and animals, is converted to hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and gaseous alkanes with hydrogen constituting 50 percent of the products. More refined molecules such as ethylene glycol and methanol are almost completely converted to hydrogen and carbon dioxide.


"The process should be greenhouse-gas neutral," says Cortright. "Carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct, but the plant biomass grown for hydrogen production will fix and store the carbon dioxide released the previous year."

Glucose is manufactured in vast quantities -- for example, in the form of corn syrup -- from corn starch, but can also be made from sugar beets, or low-cost biomass waste streams like paper mill sludge, cheese whey, corn stover or wood waste.

While hydrogen yields are higher for more refined molecules, Dumesic says glucose derived from waste biomass is likely to be the more practical candidate for cost effectively generating power.

"We believe we can make improvements to the catalyst and reactor design that will increase the amount of hydrogen we get from glucose," says Dumesic. "The alkane byproduct could be used to power an internal combustion engine or a solid-oxide fuel cell. Very little additional energy would be required to drive the process."

Because the Wisconsin process occurs in a liquid phase at low reaction temperatures (227 degrees C., 440 degrees F.) the hydrogen is made without the need to vaporize water. That represents a major energy savings compared to ethanol production or other conventional methods for producing hydrogen from fossil fuels based on vapor-phase, steam-reforming processes.

In addition, the low reaction temperatures result in very low carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations, making it possible to generate fuel-cell-grade hydrogen in a single-step process. The lack of CO in the hydrogen fuel clears a major obstacle to reliable fuel cell operation. CO poisons the electrode surfaces of low-temperature hydrogen fuel cells.

At current hydrogen yields, the team estimates the process could cost effectively generate electrical power. That, according to the Wisconsin researchers, assumes a low-cost biomass waste stream can be efficiently processed and fed into the system.

To be truly useful, the team says several process improvements must first be made. The platinum-based catalyst that drives the reaction is expensive and new combinations of catalysts and reactor configurations are needed to obtain higher hydrogen yields from more concentrated solutions of sugars.

James Dumesic | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics
23.03.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht TU Graz researchers show that enzyme function inhibits battery ageing
21.03.2017 | Technische Universität Graz

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>