Osaka University researchers have demonstrated a proof-of-concept for a novel molecular hydrogen production method that bypasses the need for expensive purification steps. They developed a system where hydrogen is separated and stored in liquid organic hydrogen carriers by catalysis of triaryl boranes in one seamless process.
The results of this work will help facilitate the transition to a hydrogen-based economy that is necessary for a more sustainable future. Hydrogen is essential to the modern economy, and expanding its utility in a more sustainable society is a major global priority.
Now, in a study recently published in Science Advances, (Not behind a paywall!) researchers from Osaka University have made exciting progress toward eliminating many of the remaining bottlenecks in using hydrogen as an energy carrier.
As a chemical precursor to the ammonia that’s used in fertilizer production, hydrogen has helped feed the world and, in the future, hydrogen may continue to save lives by also serving as a fuel.
A major obstacle to this goal is how we currently produce hydrogen. There are many methods for producing hydrogen – such as by reacting high-temperature steam with natural gas – but these approaches result in the production of crude hydrogen, which contains contaminant gases that are difficult to remove, decreasing the value of the resulting hydrogen.
For the commercial use of hydrogen, all contaminants must be rigorously removed by multistep, energy-intensive processes that are independently optimized for each contaminant, making it difficult to extract the hydrogen from the crude mixture containing the by-products.
This just might be the door that permits hydrogen to enter the general market place someday. There should be substantial savings in producing hydrogen at a purity necessary for industrial use. Coming out of Japan there is good reason to think there will be attempts to refine the ideas and try a prototype system.