Energy News  





. Clean, Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen On The Horizon

Hydrogen produced from cellulose and other renewable organic materials could be blended with natural gas for use in natural gas vehicles.
by Staff Writers
University Park PA (SPX) Nov 14, 2007
Hydrogen as an everyday, environmentally friendly fuel source may be closer than we think, according to Penn State researchers. "The energy focus is currently on ethanol as a fuel, but economical ethanol from cellulose is 10 years down the road," says Bruce E. Logan, the Kappe professor of environmental engineering. "First you need to break cellulose down to sugars and then bacteria can convert them to ethanol."

Logan and Shaoan Cheng, research associate, suggest a method based on microbial fuel cells to convert cellulose and other biodegradable organic materials directly into hydrogen in today's (Nov. 12) issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online.

The researchers used naturally occurring bacteria in a microbial electrolysis cell with acetic acid - the acid found in vinegar. Acetic acid is also the predominant acid produced by fermentation of glucose or cellulose. The anode was granulated graphite, the cathode was carbon with a platinum catalyst, and they used an off-the-shelf anion exchange membrane. The bacteria consume the acetic acid and release electrons and protons creating up to 0.3 volts. When more than 0.2 volts are added from an outside source, hydrogen gas bubbles up from the liquid.

"This process produces 288 percent more energy in hydrogen than the electrical energy that is added to the process," says Logan.

Water hydrolysis, a standard method for producing hydrogen, is only 50 to 70 percent efficient. Even if the microbial electrolysis cell process is set up to bleed off some of the hydrogen to produce the added energy boost needed to sustain hydrogen production, the process still creates 144 percent more available energy than the electrical energy used to produce it.

For those who think that a hydrogen economy is far in the future, Logan suggests that hydrogen produced from cellulose and other renewable organic materials could be blended with natural gas for use in natural gas vehicles.

"We drive a lot of vehicles on natural gas already. Natural gas is essentially methane," says Logan. "Methane burns fairly cleanly, but if we add hydrogen, it burns even more cleanly and works fine in existing natural gas combustion vehicles."

The range of efficiencies of hydrogen production based on electrical energy and energy in a variety of organic substances is between 63 and 82 percent. Both lactic acid and acetic acid achieve 82 percent, while unpretreated cellulose is 63 percent efficient. Glucose is 64 percent efficient.

Another potential use for microbial-electrolysis-cell produced hydrogen is in fertilizer manufacture. Currently fertilizer is produced in large factories and trucked to farms. With microbial electrolysis cells, very large farms or farm cooperatives could produce hydrogen from wood chips and then through a common process, use the nitrogen in the air to produce ammonia or nitric acid. Both of these are used directly as fertilizer or the ammonia could be used to make ammonium nitrate, sulfate or phosphate.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Penn State
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Baker Institute Study Shows Big Five Oil Companies Limit Exploration
Houston TX (SPX) Nov 14, 2007
A study released today by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy finds that the "Big Five" international oil companies (IOCs) are spending less money on oil exploration in real terms despite a four-fold increase in operating cash flow since the early 1990s. On the flip side, the study, "The International Oil Companies," finds that second-tier oil companies are spending more in exploration, positioning themselves to be in better shape when it comes to future oil reserves.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Baker Institute Study Shows Big Five Oil Companies Limit Exploration
  • Alternative fuels may boost pollution: report
  • Analysis: Poll finds energy tax support
  • Clean, Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen On The Horizon

  • Five radioactive trucks stopped at Belarus border
  • Indian communists ease opposition to Indo-US nuke deal
  • Japanese nuclear reactor shut after incident
  • Seven arrested in DR Congo radioactive waste dumping probe

  • A Breathable Earth
  • Researchers Find Origin Of Breathable Atmosphere Half A Billion Years Ago
  • Study Reveals Lakes A Major Source Of Prehistoric Methane
  • Giant Atmospheric Waves Over Iowa

  • Finnish paper mill to open in Uruguay despite Argentina's protests
  • Greenpeace urges Indonesia to stop burning forest
  • Chinese bamboo firm predicts fast growth after stock market bow
  • Europe's forests flourishing, but fire remain a threat: study

  • Global pest uses promiscuity to wipe out competition: study
  • Researchers say desalinated water harms crops: report
  • One third of Europe's freshwater fish face extinction: IUCN
  • Tuna fishing quota violators targeted in report

  • AAMCO Unveils Eco-Green Initiative To Promote Cleaner Running Cars And Centers
  • Call for speed limit on German autobahns
  • RAND Paper Finds Diesel, Hybrid Vehicles Can Provide More Societal Benefits Than Gas-Powered Autos
  • GM-backed college students win US military's robot car race

  • Time Magazine Recognizes The X-48B
  • Virgin to offer carbon offsets alongside drinks and perfume
  • NASA sorry over air safety uproar
  • Airbus superjumbo makes first commercial flight

  • Nuclear Power In Space - Part 2
  • Outside View: Nuclear future in space
  • Nuclear Power In Space
  • Could NASA Get To Pluto Faster? Space Expert Says Yes - By Thinking Nuclear

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement