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Clean hydrogen produced from agricultural waste with 600% less energy

May 31, 2024 | by The Jeuns

Scientists Develop Breakthrough Method for Green Hydrogen Production

The need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy has never been more urgent due to rising greenhouse gas emissions and climate change concerns. Hydrogen is emerging as a promising carbon-free energy source, offering sustainable energy with zero carbon dioxide emissions.

In a significant breakthrough, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) have developed a method to produce hydrogen gas from water using solar power and agricultural waste like manure or husks. By utilizing biochar, a carbon-rich substance, the team has managed to reduce the energy needed for water-to-hydrogen conversion by an astonishing 600 percent.

This innovative approach, detailed in a study published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, paves the way for environmentally friendly and sustainable chemical production. Biochar, generated through high-temperature processes like pyrolysis, gasification, and hydrothermal carbonization, significantly cuts down the electricity required to convert water into hydrogen gas.

The research team experimented with various forms of biochar, including those derived from cow dung, paper waste, hemp waste, and sugarcane husks. Remarkably, all types of biochar lowered the energy needed for the conversion, with cow dung showing the most promising results by reducing electrical needs by six times.

This efficient process offers nearly 35 percent conversion of biochar and solar energy into hydrogen, setting new world records in clean energy production. The procedure not only enables the clean manufacture of hydrogen but also facilitates the production of various other chemicals from biowaste.

By harnessing sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power and turning waste products into valuable resources, this method could potentially achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The team behind this groundbreaking research has filed patents for their biochar and hydrogen production methods and plans to scale up their experiments for real-world applications.

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