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Rust and light lead to improved hydrogen fuel production


The main application with hydrogen is with fuel cells. A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel. With a hydrogen fuel cell, this operates through passing hydrogen via an anode of a fuel cell and also moving oxygen through the cathode. At the anode location, hydrogen molecules are divided into electrons and protons.

There is a great deal of interest in hydrogen fuel (it is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen). However, development has been hampered by safety issues (hydrogen is very flammable, and leaks can occur from energy storage solutions) and obtaining the required quantities of hydrogen to be cost-effective has proved challenging.Among the methods of hydrogen production is a solar-power driven processes, where light is deployed to catalyze a reaction where water molecules are split into oxygen and hydrogen gas.To improve efficiency, researchers from Tokyo University of Science used a type of rust termed α-FeOOH (a from of iron (III) oxide). The study showed that hydrogen production aided by a light source from Hg-Xe lamp irradiation was up to twenty-five times greater than a titanium dioxide catalyst under the same light.

Rust never sleeps in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland.Joseph Boltrukiewicz

Essential was to the process was the separation of the generated the hydrogen and oxygen gases. If these gases are not separated immediately then the combination of the gases will either lower the hydrogen fuel output or poses an explosion risk.To combat this the research group succeeded in creating the optimal experimental conditions, which came down to the generation of hydrogen from water-methanol solution. This was achieved by applying a gas-chromatography-mass-spectrometry technology.

A fuel cell. The actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image.NASA

The development has sparked interest from environmentalists, since generating hydrogen fuel is essential to many programs connected to sustainable energy processes. The additional use of organic waste products doubly helps the path towards creating an efficient clean energy industry.The development has been

presented to the publication Chemistry – A European Journal. The research paper is titled “Hydrogen Production System by Light‐Induced α‐FeOOH Coupled with Photoreduction.”

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