Yes, it’s true that hydrogen is wildly abundant on the planet but molecular hydrogen, the stuff used in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, is a bit of a sticky wicket. Not only is its production energy intensive, transporting and storing it is problematic.
Researchers at Duke University have devised a way to produce fuel-grade hydrogen without the pesky of carbon monoxide byproduct typically formed during the making of hydrogen. Additionally, carbon monoxide can damage the catalyst system and fuel cell membrane.
While the carbon monoxide isn’t completely eliminated, the process brings the levels down to “nearly zero,” according to Science Daily.
As you may well know, carbon monoxide is toxic to humans and animals alike so limiting its creation is essential to the proliferation of hydrogen as a mass-market fuel source.
Lead by Nico Hotz, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, graduate student Titilayo “Titi” Shodiya designed a new catalytic system used in the production of hydrogen.
Boiling down Duke’s methods to nearly comically simple levels, instead of the standard hydrogen catalytic process, which relies on gold as the soul catalyst, researchers instead “made both the iron oxide and the gold the focus of the catalytic process.”
So cutting out all the scientific mumbo-jumbo, what does this mean for you? Well, it would seem researchers have made a big step toward legitimizing hydrogen as a petroleum-based fuel replacement. It seems no fuel is perfect but hydrogen is getting mighty close.