Producing hydrogen from methanol efficiently using a new catalyst

March 5th, 2013 by Nature

Crystals of a newly developed ruthenium-based metal-organic catalyst which can liberate molecules of hydrogen from methanol at relatively low temperatures (click image to expand - image courtesy of Dr Barbara Heller, Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. (LIKAT Rostock)

Crystals of a newly developed ruthenium-based metal-organic catalyst, which with water as a reactant can liberate molecules of hydrogen from methanol at relatively low temperatures (click image to expand – image courtesy of Dr Barbara Heller, Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. (LIKAT Rostock)

An efficient, low-temperature method for generating hydrogen from methanol is described in Nature.

The hydrogen gas produced using this method can be converted into electricity with the help of proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

Hydrogen produced from renewable resources is a promising potential source of clean energy.

Unfortunately, hydrogen gas is difficult to handle and transport, but methanol contains 12.6% hydrogen and is a liquid at ambient temperature, enabling it to be used as a means of temporarily ‘storing’ hydrogen until it is needed.

Current methods used to liberate hydrogen from methanol require high temperatures (over 200° Celsius) and high pressures, which limits its potential applications.

The new approach described by Professor Matthias Beller and colleagues uses a ruthenium-based catalyst, which can efficiently generate hydrogen from methanol at 65–95° degrees Celsius and ambient pressure.

The authors believe that their system could be used to combine the advantages of methanol as a hydrogen carrier and of PEM fuel cells for efficient energy production.

For more information about this development please read ‘Liquid storage could make hydrogen a feasible fuel‘ on the Nature website, and the article ‘Cool way to make hydrogen from methanol‘ on the Chemical News & Engineering website.

 

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