Germany develops a new catalyst for extracting hydrogen from liquid

Editor's note: Hydrogen has a high combustion value and is clean and pollution-free, but the disadvantage is that it cannot be collected in large quantities, it is difficult to store, and transportation is not safe. One of the current methods is to use solid or liquid materials to absorb "seal" hydrogen. Although there are many candidate materials, they are either "packed" too little, or they are too tightly packed, and it is not easy to release them again. Recently, chemical engineer Matthias Bell of Rostock University and colleagues have developed a soluble ruthenium-based catalyst that can effectively release hydrogen from stored methanol at 65 to 95 degrees Celsius and normal pressure.

According to the "Nature" website reported on February 28 (Beijing time), chemical engineers at the University of Rostock in Germany have developed a new catalyst that can easily extract hydrogen from liquid methanol, making hydrogen storage and transportation easier. The researchers believe that this method eliminates the biggest obstacle in the "hydrogen economy". In the future, it is expected that hydrogen will be "loaded" into methanol through pipelines and tank trucks for transportation and storage, and then used to extract hydrogen through chemical reactions to generate electricity for remote rural areas Or provide fuel for vehicles such as cars.

Hydrogen has a high combustion value and is clean and pollution-free, but the disadvantage is that it cannot be collected in large quantities, it is difficult to store, and transportation is not safe. If it is compressed and liquefied, not only the method is complicated but also a lot of energy is consumed. For decades, many chemists have been looking for the best way to absorb and store hydrogen, making hydrogen a convenient and reliable fuel.

One of the current methods is to use solid or liquid materials to absorb "seal" hydrogen. Although there are many candidate materials, they are either "packed" too little, or they are too tightly packed, and it is not easy to release them again. Methanol can directly convert hydrogen into liquid fuel, and the catalyst can combine hydrogen and carbon monoxide into methanol. At the same time, methanol can also absorb a large amount of hydrogen, which is about 12.5% ​​of its own weight. But methanol also has the problem of releasing hydrogen. To let it release hydrogen, the previous method required heating methanol to 200 degrees Celsius and applying 25 to 50 atmospheres.

Matthias Bell, a chemical engineer at the University of Rostock, and colleagues have developed a soluble ruthenium-based catalyst that can effectively release hydrogen from stored methanol at 65 to 95 degrees Celsius and atmospheric pressure. "This energy savings is difficult to estimate." Bell said that the purpose of turning methanol into a practical "hydrogen tank" is basically achieved, and it is expected to power mobile phones, computers, and automobile fuel cells in the future.

Edman Tang, a chemist at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, has also been studying hydrogen storage. He called the new method an "important discovery", especially because the reaction does not require high temperatures, and the waste heat generated by the operation of hydrogen fuel cells is about the same, which means It is very attractive to combine the methanol-hydrogen reaction with a hydrogen battery. Although there are still some obstacles, this methanol-hydrogen conversion method is worth trying, because if directly powered by methanol, the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells is twice that of ordinary fuel cells.

Bell also pointed out that the process is still in its infancy, and it will take several years to realize commercialization. There are still some technical obstacles, especially for large-scale responses. For example, if it is used to drive a car, the reaction requires 24 liters of hydrogen per second, while the laboratory reaction produces only a few milliliters of hydrogen per minute; the catalyst must also be very stable and can be stored for months or years, and it can currently reach at least 3 weeks In addition, the carbon dioxide generated in the reaction should also be absorbed to reduce carbon emissions.

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