Scientist are now seriously working on increasing the capability to supply clean hydrogen fuel from plant waste materials in their new discovery which will eventually substitute petrol stations with a chain of roadside “bioreactors” to provide fuel to vehicles.
The Shell Oil has funded a study that reveal the possibility to modify a hundred per cent of the sugar in the dried corn stalks into hydrogen gas that does not release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, it also includes the cobs and husks that are leftovers in a harvested field.
The procedure was made successful through combining the raw biomass with a water like liquid mixture blended with ten enzymes to change the plant sugars namely the xylose and glucose, into carbon dioxide. This was explained by Professor Percibal Zhang of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
At one time, it was only possible to modify 30 percent to 60 percent of the plant’s sugar by fermenting microbes or industrial catalysts to produce hydrogen. Yet a newly discovered process was applied so that 100 percent of the plant sugars can be modified into hydrogen.
The green economy aspires to achieve their main objective to make substitutes to petrol and produce pure hydrogen gas from crop waste and biomass .Yet the procedure being currently used is still inefficient, costly and problems constantly arise on how to disperse the product when its done.
“All the products produced by the process are gases so they can be separated and collected easily from the biomass substrate. Over its lifecycle, the process is carbon neutral and we have achieved a 17-fold increase in the rate of the reaction which makes it economically viable,” stated Professor Zang.
“This means we have demonstrated the most important step toward a hydrogen economy – producing distributed and affordable green hydrogen from local biomass resources,” he added.
Some uncertainties may have clouded the development of a procedure which is mainly on the capability of recycling “dirty” biomass as fuel than depending on costly processing of sugars to produce hydrogen. Also in order to succeed, it is necessary to construct bioreactors as big as petrol stations close to where the raw materials are located. This may start a new chain of green re-fuelling stations spread all over nations.