Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Better Way to Make Hydrogen from Biofuels

21.08.2008
Researchers here have found a way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen very efficiently. A new catalyst makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90 percent yield, at a workable temperature, and using inexpensive ingredients.

Umit Ozkan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University, said that the new catalyst is much less expensive than others being developed around the world, because it does not contain precious metals, such as platinum or rhodium.

"Rhodium is used most often for this kind of catalyst, and it costs around $9,000 an ounce," Ozkan said. "Our catalyst costs around $9 a kilogram."

She and her co-workers presented the research Wednesday, August 20 at the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia.

The Ohio State catalyst could help make the use of hydrogen-powered cars more practical in the future, she said.

"There are many practical issues that need to be resolved before we can use hydrogen as fuel -- how to make it, how to transport it, how to create the infrastructure for people to fill their cars with it," Ozkan explained.

"Our research lends itself to what's called a 'distributed production' strategy. Instead of making hydrogen from biofuel at a centralized facility and transporting it to gas stations, we could use our catalyst inside reactors that are actually located at the gas stations. So we wouldn't have to transport or store the hydrogen -- we could store the biofuel, and make hydrogen on the spot."

The catalyst is inexpensive to make and to use compared to others under investigation worldwide. Those others are often made from precious metals, or only work at very high temperatures.

"Precious metals have high catalytic activity and -- in most cases -- high stability, but they're also very expensive. So our goal from the outset was to come up with a precious-metal-free catalyst, one that was based on metals that are readily available and inexpensive, but still highly active and stable. So that sets us apart from most of the other groups in the world."

The new dark gray powder is made from tiny granules of cerium oxide -- a common ingredient in ceramics -- and calcium, covered with even smaller particles of cobalt. It produces hydrogen with 90 percent efficiency at 660 degrees Fahrenheit (around 350 degrees Celsius) -- a low temperature by industrial standards.

"Whenever a process works at a lower temperature, that brings energy savings and cost savings," Ozkan said. “Also, if the catalyst is highly active and can achieve high hydrogen yields, we don’t need as much of it. That will bring down the size of the reactor, and its cost”.

The process starts with a liquid biofuel such as ethanol, which is heated and pumped into a reactor, where the catalyst spurs a series of chemical reactions that ultimately convert the liquid to a hydrogen-rich gas.

One of the biggest challenges the researchers faced was how to prevent "coking" -- the formation of carbon fragments on the surface of the catalyst. The combination of metals -- cerium oxide and calcium -- solved that problem, because it promoted the movement of oxygen ions inside the catalyst. When exposed to enough oxygen, the carbon, like the biofuel, is converted into a gas and gets oxidized; it becomes carbon dioxide.

At the end of the process, waste gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane are removed, and the hydrogen is purified. To make the process more energy-efficient, heat exchangers capture waste heat and put that energy back into the reactor. Methane recovered in the process can be used to supply part of the energy.

Though this work was based on converting ethanol, Ozkan's team is now studying how to use the same catalyst with other liquid biofuels. Her coauthors on this presentation included Ohio State doctoral students Hua Song and Lingzhi Zhang.

This research was funded by the Department of Energy.

Contact: Umit Ozkan, (614) 292-6623; Ozkan.1@osu.edu

Pam Frost Gorder | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study clarifies kinship of important plant group
05.08.2020 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Human cell-based test systems for toxicity studies: Ready-to-use Toxicity Assay (hiPSC)
05.08.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik IBMT

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study clarifies kinship of important plant group

05.08.2020 | Life Sciences

Human cell-based test systems for toxicity studies: Ready-to-use Toxicity Assay (hiPSC)

05.08.2020 | Life Sciences

Molecular Forces: The Surprising Stretching Behaviour of DNA

05.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>