Researchers at the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering in South Korea have discovered a new way to produce hydrogen that is less energy-intensive and more efficient.
The research team have created a new biofuel system that uses an electron that is produced during the decomposition of biomass to create hydrogen.
Typically, hydrogen is produced through the electrolysis of water. A voltage is applied to water which then produces hydrogen and oxygen at the same time.
However, during this current process, the oxygen reaction is slow which means that producing hydrogen is very inefficient.
The traditional method also uses a high energy voltage which means producing hydrogen isn’t as energy efficient as it could be.
The new method moves electrodes from biomass along a wire to the electrode where the hydrogen reaction then occurs.
The process involves using inexpensive metal catalysts to break down biomass at low temperatures and extract the electrons produced in the process to produce hydrogen.
Hyeonmyeong Oh, lead author of the study said: ‘With this new system, we can produce hydrogen with less energy than conventional water electrolysis, as there is no need for oxygen reactions, requiring high energy and precious metal catalysts.
‘Conventional methods require more than 1.5 volts, but the new system was capable of producing hydrogen at a much lower potential.’
Professor Jungki Ryu at the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering said: ‘The new biofuel system is a technology that produces hydrogen using cheap catalysts and low voltages instead of expensive catalysts such as platinum.
‘Our work is also significant, as it presents a new way to replace oxygen-producing reactions in the electrolysis of water.’
In related news, most households in the UK would be happy to use hydrogen as a domestic fuel, believing it would have a positive environmental impact, but their main concern is the cost in doing so, according to a survey conducted by researchers at Newcastle University.
Newcastle University’s research team is now calling for greater public involvement in discussions about the benefits and costs of using blended hydrogen in order to build awareness and acceptance of it being used in homes.
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