Researchers at Ohio State University have found a way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen very efficiently. A new catalyst makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90% yield, at a workable temperature and using inexpensive ingredients.
Umit Ozkan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, said the new catalyst is much less expensive than others being developed around the world because it does not contain precious metals. "Rhodium is used most often for this kind of catalyst, and it costs around $9,000 an ounce," Ozkan said. "Our catalyst costs around $9/kg."
The Ohio State catalyst could help make the use of hydrogen-powered cars more practical in the future, Ozkan said. "Our research lends itself to what's called a 'distributed production' strategy. Instead of making hydrogen from biofuel at a centralized facility and transporting it to gas stations, we could use our catalyst inside reactors that are actually located at the gas stations. So, we wouldn't have to transport or store the hydrogen; we could store the biofuel and make hydrogen on the spot," she explained.