COLUMBUS, Ohio -- 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 b
|Contact: Umit Ozkan|
Ohio State University