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Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jul 22

Hydrogen From Waste Materials

Posted in Fuel Cells | Hydrogen Fuel | Waste to Energy

Hydrogen From Waste Environmentalists are continuously searching for green and clean fuel. Until now they have been putting a lot of energy and talent into hydrogen fuels because when hydrogen is burned, the only emission it makes is water vapor. So it is a great advantage that burning of hydrogen doesn’t produce carbon dioxide. Clearly, hydrogen is less of a pollutant in the air because it emits little tail pipe pollution. Engineers at the University of Leeds are working on a project keeping hydrogen in mind. They are developing an energy efficient, environmental-friendly hydrogen production system but with a difference. They are trying to extract hydrogen from waste materials. These materials can be vegetable oil or the glycerol by-product of bio-diesel. They are aspiring for the high purity hydrogen-based fuel that could be utilized for large-scale power production. They are also developing hydrogen cells for laptops or other gadgets. A grant of over £400k has been awarded to the University by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) within a consortium of 12 institutions known as SUPERGEN Sustainable Hydrogen Delivery.


Dr Valerie Dupont from the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering (SPEME) shares his thoughts about future hydrogen fuels: “I can foresee a time when the processes we are investigating could help ensure that hydrogen is a mainstream fuel. We are investigating the feasibility of creating a uniquely energy efficient method of hydrogen production which uses air rather than burners to heat the raw product. Our current research will improve the sustainability of this process and reduce its carbon emissions.”

Hydrogen is largely considered as a clean and green alternative fuel but it is costly to manufacture. If we follow conventional methods of hydrogen production then it emits greenhouse gases. Engineers at the University of Leeds are focusing on these points. The system they are developing is called as Unmixed and Sorption-Enhanced Steam Reforming. They are combining waste products with steam to release hydrogen. This process is comparatively cheaper and cleaner than the existing methods and more energy efficient.

They are using a catalytic reactor for mixing a hydrocarbon-based fuel from plant or waste sources. Waste sources are mixed with steam that produces hydrogen and carbon dioxide and excess water as a byproduct. The water is condensed by cooling without much hassle and the carbon dioxide is removed in situ by a solid sorbent material.

Dr Dupont voices his concern about carbon content: “It’s becoming increasingly necessary for scientists devising new technologies to limit the amount of carbon dioxide they release. This project takes us one step closer to these goals – once we have technologies that enable us to produce hydrogen sustainably, the infrastructure to support its use will grow.”

“We firmly believe that these advanced steam reforming processes have great potential for helping to build the hydrogen economy. Our primary focus now is to ensure the materials we rely on – both to catalyse the desired reaction and to capture the carbon dioxide – can be used over and over again without losing their efficacy.”

  • http://PESWiki.com Sterling Allan

    This statement needs correction: “Clearly, hydrogen is less of a pollutant in the air because it emits little tail pipe pollution.” Hydrogen as a fuel emits no pollution, just water vapor. There may be other impurities in the fuel, which could result in pollution, but hydrogen alone is not responsible.

  • http://www.ecolutions.in Vilas Khadse

    I agree with the views of Dr Dupont. More research is necessary to build hydrogen economy. I wish all the best to SUPERGEN sustainable Hydrogen Delivery and hope they come out with radical new products.

  • Justwatching

    At the end of the day remember Hydrogen is a carrier of energy not a source. You always get less out than you put in.

  • russ

    “Clearly, hydrogen is less of a pollutant in the air because it emits little tail pipe pollution.”

    That is true only if you manage to forget the production. In that case electricity is even more green I guess!

    Until more energy is generated by the H2 consumer than was required to make that volume of H2 it is a loser – attractive but a loser.

    There is a real possibility that H2 will never be widely used as a fuel just for that reason. Small scale does not count for much – it needs to be large scale commercial.

    Having said that I would love to see the method found – H2 is relatively safe and easy to handle as well as being clean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Bill Luscombe

    Great, any 21st Century progress to diminish Big Oil and reduce Oil consumption!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Veronika

    I am just waiting for the next car driven on hydrogen from water…


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