The world just got one step closer to affordable, clean hydrogen fuel. Scientists at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio have developed an efficient way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen. The new catalyst uses ethanol to make hydrogen, producing a 90% yield. Even better, the process uses inexpensive ingredients and produces hydrogen at a workable temperature.
Unlike other hydrogen processes under development around the world, the OSU process does not use precious metals like platinum or rhodium, making it considerably less expensive than its competitors. “Rhodium is used most often for this kind of catalyst and it costs around $9,000 dollars an ounce,” said Umit Ozkan, OSU professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “Our catalyst costs around $9 a kilogram.”
Ozkan believes the OSU-developed catalyst could make the use of hydrogen-powered cars a practical reality in the future. She noted, “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.”