Cheap hydrogen produced through corn :
Hydrogen as a source of clean, efficient energy … and cheap: it could soon become a reality. A team at the Virginia Institute of Technology has developed a method for producing ecological and economical hydrogen from plant residues, in this case maize. A solution that could make it possible to generalize the use of this biofuel and fuel cell vehicles.
For the last ten years, Percival Zhang’s team has been working on developing alternative and economicaltechniques . Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Technology (USA) are particularly interested in the actions of (the of cells) and their ability to release the retained in plants.
In a recent issue of the, they unveil a low-cost, high-yield production method that exploits in .
Why such an interest inwhen its consumption represents only a small percentage of global ? First, because with an energy density of 33 kWh per , it contains for example three times more energy than and even 2.5 times more than .
Moreover, used in a, hydrogen, which combines with to produce electricity, rejects nothing but water. It is therefore an ideal fuel for . However, conventional generation technologies are still largely based on fossil ( , , etc.). They are expensive and emit large amounts of . Hence the importance of the work carried out by Percival Zhang’s team.
Extract hydrogen from corn glucose and xylose
There are already methods of producing hydrogen frombut they are usually based on a material of refined sugars, which already require an energy expenditure for their production.
Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Technology propose meanwhile exploitof such as the stalks or envelopes ears of (the main grown in the United States). What would reduce costs and imagine a model of distributed energy production that would be both closer to the processing plants and consumers.
Based on a computer model, Percival Zhang’s team peeled up the possiblereactions to degrade maize residue sugars with hydrogen and CO 2 production .
The researchers have discovered a series of reactions that do not exist in nature but are very effective in extracting the hydrogen contained in both cornand xylose. By acting on these two types of sugars simultaneously, they were able to increase the release of and up to triple the product more classic.
The team from the Virginia Institute of Technology has also been able to increase the efficiency of enzymatic reactions by a factor of ten over the best known methods today.
A sufficient level to consider hydrogen production in small facilities, “similar to traditional gas stations,” say the researchers. Especially since the biological reaction involved does not require the creation of special conditions that would require large technical means. The hydrogen produced can be easily separated from thein and remains of high quality.
What to generalize the use of, According to US researchers, and thus reduce drastically the use of fossil fuels and of .
The team already has the necessary funds to take the next step, that of the realization of an industrial demonstrator.