Hydrogen fuel production could be made more efficient through the use of rhodiumJuly 6, 2012
Hydrogen fuel continues to present a sleuth of technological challenges
Hydrogen may be the most abundant element in the universe, but it has proven somewhat elusive on earth. Though there is no shortage of methods to produce hydrogen gas, the majority of these methods are not considered to be efficient as they require large amount of energy or make use of fossil-fuels. Producing large quantities of hydrogen gas continues to present a technological challenge. One that must be resolved before the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells can become a reality.
Researchers discover chemical mechanism through computer modeling
A team of researchers from the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing, led by professor Jia Zhang, have developed a computer model that has enabled them to discover a chemical mechanism that could lead to the production of hydrogen fuel through the use of ethanol. Transforming ethanol into hydrogen fuel is not a new concept, but it is one that has been considered, by some, cumbersome in the past. Professor Zhang believes that this chemical mechanism can make the process of converting ethanol into hydrogen fuel an easier and more financially attractive endeavor.
Rhodium catalyst could be the key to high-quantity hydrogen fuel production
According to Zhang, the catalysts often used in the production of hydrogen fuel operate by breaking the carbon bonds from surface-absorbed ethanol before the ethanol can be considered viable for conversion. By studying these catalysts, researchers found that the surfaces of these catalysts were “stepped” – resembling a miniature staircase-like structure. Using a computer model, researchers found that ethanol decomposition – the process through which hydrogen fuel can be attained – is most probable and efficient using rhodium rather than the platinum that is common in conventional electrocatalysts.
Researchers suggest that rhodium could lead the way to affordable and efficient fuel production
Using rhodium as a catalytic material, researchers believe they can produce high quantities of hydrogen fuel with little effort. This hydrogen fuel would be produced affordably, as rhodium is less expensive than platinum and is capable of higher levels of production output.
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