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The team used xylose -- a simple plant sugar

Virginia Tech researchers have found a way to produce large amounts of hydrogen inexpensively using a simple plant sugar.

Y.H. Percival Zhang, study leader and an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, and his team have produced large quantities of hydrogen in an effort to lessen the dependence of fossil fuels.

Zhang and his team used xylose in the study, which is a sugar first isolated from wood. Not only is this form of hydrogen production inexpensive and environmentally friendly, but it can also occur using any source of biomass. 

Up until now, producing hydrogen gas from biomass was a costly process that didn't yield very much in the end.


For this study, Zhang and his team liberated the hydrogen under normal atmospheric pressure and mild reaction conditions at 122 degrees. A group of enzymes -- which were isolated from various microorganisms at extreme temperatures -- were used as biocatalysts to release the hydrogen.

The team used xylose to release the hydrogen, which hasn't been used much in the past because most scientists use natural or engineered microorganisms. These cannot create large quantities of hydrogen because the microorganisms grow and reproduce instead of splitting water molecules for the creation of pure hydrogen.

The energy stored in Xylose splits water molecules, thus creating very pure hydrogen that can be used by proton-exchange membrane fuel cells.

The team separated some of the enzymes from their native microorganisms to create a special enzyme mixture.  When the enzymes were combined with xylose and a polyphosphate, a large amount of hydrogen was liberated from the xylose.

In fact, the team produced about three times as much hydrogen as other hydrogen-producing microorganisms.

“Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Zhang. "Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future.”

Source: Virginia Tech News



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RE: One problem...
By Hammer1024 on 4/8/2013 12:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
Err... Actually, it is: C8 H18 is just one of the "CxHx" groups in the gasoline soup.

Where do you think the water in an auto's exaust comes from? Add O2 from the air, and you get CO2 + H2O from combusiton.

And since you're not a history fan, I'd like you to be made aware that internal combustion engines have loved H2 since the initial experiments of the 1960's!

I still remember watching a VW Bug get a compressed hydrogen treatment! The experimentor, who started and drove the car out on the street, got out, put a glass under the tail pipe and drank the water that was dripping out!


RE: One problem...
By JediJeb on 4/8/2013 6:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
That is correct, it was a simple conversion on a car using a carburetor, much like setting one up to run on propane back then. Could be just as easy to set it up using fuel injectors to let the hydrogen into the cylinders. You can actually just take a cylinder of hydrogen with a regulator and a hose and hold it over the intake of an engine and once you get the hydrogen flow correct it will run just by sucking in the hydrogen/air mixture, crude but simple.

The only reason I would not really like to drink that exhause though is from the oil that would contaminate it from the crankcase. It would be a trace amount, but it would still be there.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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