Hydrogen production has been a sticking point in the desire to move to a hydrogen-based transportation system and hydrogen economy. How do we go about producing enough hydrogen to fuel autos, businesses and homes? Most current hydrogen production centers around steam-reforming natural gas. Much research is being conducted, however, on alternative methods to produce hydrogen.
Scientists in Canada have discovered a new way to capture and release hydrogen on-demand that may lead to the development of lightweight fuel cells for hydrogen autos. The scientists are using a phosphonium borate compound that is integral to the new process.
Researchers in New Mexico at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered that by bombarding ice under high pressure with X-rays a new compound never seen before forms. The water molecules are broken down into separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules, then recombine into a stable alloy that can be stored and transported for use in fuel cells.
Microbiologists from Nanologix have discovered that bacteria chomping on a combination of grape juice and switch grass can produce hydrogen in large quantities. The researchers say this combination (when achieving an optimal nutrient mixture) can produce hydrogen at three times the normal amounts.
In Gilbert, Arizona, researchers at the Diversified Energy Corporation have developed and demonstrated a coal-to-hydrogen process on a laboratory scale. The process, which the company calls Hydro-Max, turns coal into synthetic gas, from which hydrogen can be extracted and CO2 can be sequestered for storage in abandoned oil wells and fields. This new technology makes way for larger pilot plant development.
In order to supply large amounts of hydrogen to the waiting public in the future, it is highly likely that many different sources for hydrogen production be used, based on both renewable and non-renewable technologies. The technologies outline here are just a sampling of the vast amount of research ongoing in this area.