March 15, 2017

"A team of scientists have found a way to use solar power to generate a sustainable and relatively cheap fuel by using natural light to generate hydrogen from biomass."

R and D Mag: Moritz Kuehnel, Ph.D., from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and joint lead author, said that lignocellelose—the main component of plant biomass—can be used to harness hydrogen. by Kenny Walter

'“Lignocellulose is nature's equivalent to armored concrete,” Kuehnel said in a statement. “It consists of strong, highly crystalline cellulose fibers, that are interwoven with lignin and hemicellulose which act as a glue. This rigid structure has evolved to give plants and trees mechanical stability and protect them from degradation and makes chemical utilization of lignocellulose so challenging.”

'The technology relies on a simple photocatalytic conversion process where catalytic nanoparticles are added to alkaline water in which the biomass is suspended. This is then placed in front a light in the lab that mimics solar light to create a solution ideal for absorbing the light and converting the biomass into gaseous hydrogen that can then be collected from the headspace.

'The hydrogen produced is free of fuel-cell inhibitors, such as carbon monoxide, which allows it to be used for power.'

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