New Process to Boost Hydrogen Fuel Cell Usage
A new process is being tested by chemical engineers of Purdue University to get high hydrogen production at fuel-cell temperature-level with no catalyst use. This is full of promise for vehicles powered by hydrogen and other portable electronic items like dig-cams, medical diagnostic devices, defibrillators, cell phones and notebook computers. The research funded by US Department of Energy is ushering in a new process.
High hydrogen content material used:
The scientists who are working on this process are using ammonia borane – a powdered chemical -also one of the solid materials with highest hydrogen content. Because of its high-weight percentage of 19.6%, only small quantity is needed to store comparatively huge amount of hydrogen.
The new process is called hydrothermolysis, a combination of two hydrogen generating methods – hydrolysis and thermolysis processes. While each individually is not helpful, when combined, the combination releases hydrogen from ammonia borane very efficiently and at fuel-cell temperatures.
With hydrolysis, a catalyst is required to generate hydrogen when water and ammonia borane are combined. In thermolysis, it should be heated to higher than 170 degrees Celsius to release the hydrogen. The benefit of the combo process is it is working successfully at considerably lower pressures than presently possible in the test cars powered by hydrogen. After various testing, it was found that 77% ammonia borane is ideal for optimal hydrogen production.
Reaching targets set by US Govt:
Hydrogen generated from hydrothermolysis amounted to 14% total weight used in the process. This is considerably higher than the government target of 5.5% of total weight; higher than hydrogen yields from other experimental systems as well.
The research team consisting of Moiz Diwan, former Purdue doctoral student, Hyun Tae, Hwang Purdue postdoctoral researcher, Ahmad Al-Kukhun, doctoral student – is headed by Arvind Varma, R., Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering. They presented their findings on June15, 2010 at International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering in Philadelphia. Also online, AIChE Journal will publish these findings.
Producing hydrogen economically and efficiently will go hand in hand with research into technologies for recycling waste residual products back into ammonia borane. This will go a long way in making this process a viable option for hydrogen powered cars to run about 350 miles before re-fuelling!