One of the central challenges of our time is the supply of enough environmentally friendly and resource-efficient energy to our society. In this context, hydrogen technology has taken on increased importance.
Björn Loges, Albert Boddien, Henrik Junge, and Matthias Beller at the Leibniz Institute of Catalysis in Rostock have now succeeded in the controlled extraction of hydrogen from formic acid—without the need for the high-temperature reforming process usually involved in other hydrogen generation systems. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this hydrogen source, generated at room temperature, can be directly introduced into fuel cells.
Hydrogen-powered fuel cells are the cleanest source of energy because they only produce one type of exhaust gas: water vapor. However, it is not yet practicable to transport and store hydrogen, which is a gas and cannot be pumped into a tank as easily as gasoline. Storage systems currently in use are large and heavy, expensive, and complex. It would thus be better to couple the fuel cell directly to a hydrogen-producing material, which would supply the fuel cell on demand.
Aside from methane and methanol, renewable resources such as biomass and its fermentation products (e.g. bioethanol) are the most promising starting materials for this technology. The serious disadvantage is that their conversion only works at temperatures above 200 °C, which consumes a significant portion of the energy produced.
The researchers from Rostock have now developed a feasible process for the on-demand release of hydrogen; they produce hydrogen from formic acid (HCO2H). In the presence of an amine (e.g. N,N-dimethylhexylamine) and with a suitable catalyst (e.g. the commercially available ruthenium phosphine complex [RuCl2(PPH3)2]), formic acid is selectively converted into carbon dioxide and hydrogen at room temperature. A simple activated charcoal filter is enough to purify the hydrogen gas for use in a fuel cell. The use of formic acid for “hydrogen storage” allows the advantages of established hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell technology to be combined with those of liquid fuels. Formic acid is nontoxic and easy to store. Because formic acid can be generated catalytically from CO2 and biomass-derived hydrogen, the cycle is CO2 neutral in principle.
Will we be replacing gasoline with formic acid in the future? It is not inconceivable, but initial applications requiring smaller amounts of energy are more probable. “For the use of fuel cells in portable electrical devices,” says Beller, “this nascent formic acid technology opens up new possibilities in the short term.”
Author: Matthias Beller, Universität Rostock (Germany), http://www.catalysis.de/Beller-Matthias.239.0.html
Title: Controlled generation of hydrogen from formic acid amine adducts at room temperature and application in H2/O2 fuel cells
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 21, 3962–3965, doi: 10.1002/anie.200705972
Matthias Beller | Angewandte Chemie
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy