SCIENTISTS from Aberdeen University have discovered a natural and renewable way of producing hydrogen to generate electricity.
Led by Professor Hicham Idriss, chairman of the Energy Futures Research Centre, the team found that ethanol, a substance made through the fermentation of crops, can be converted into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The hydrogen generated would be used to power fuel cells, which convert fuels into electricity without the need for combustion.
The new method has the potential to power homes, buildings and cars and could dramatically reduce industry’s dependency on fossil fuels.
Prof Idriss said: “We have successfully created the first stable catalyst which can generate hydrogen using ethanol produced from crop fermentation at realistic conditions.
“Moreover, hydrogen generated using this method is very clean and therefore suitable for fuel cells because it also converts all carbon monoxide – which is poisonous – generated in the process to carbon dioxide at the same time.”
He added that, due to ethanol being created from plants or crops, the carbon dioxide generated during the process is neutral, enabling it to be absorbed back into the environment.
The research, which took 10 years for the university and partner laboratories to complete, will be published in volume one of a new sustainable chemical reactions journal, ChemSusChem.