The University of Cambridge is world renowned for making discoveries that can propel mankind to great advancements and the latest has the potential to do such also. Scientists at the British based university
have identified a technique capable of using solar power to produce clean hydrogen from Biomass.
In a news release on Tuesday the university said that up until now lignocellulose – the main component of plant biomass – had only been converted into hydrogen via a gasification process that uses high
temperatures to "decompose it fully."The university said that the new technique involved the addition of catalytic nanoparticles to alkaline water containing biomass.
The solution is put in the way of a lab based light which imitates a solar light, this was described as being an “ideal” method for absorbing the taking in the light and transferring the biomass into a gaseous
"There's a lot of chemical energy stored in raw biomass, but it's unrefined, so you can't expect it to work in complicated machinery, such as a car engine," David Wakerley, from the University of Cambridge's
Department of Chemistry, said in a statement."Our system is able to convert the long, messy structures that make up biomass into hydrogen gas, which is much more useful," Wakerley added.
"We have specifically designed a combination of catalyst and solution that allows this transformation to occur using sunlight as a source of energy. With this in place we can simply add organic matter to the
system and then, provided it's a sunny day, produce hydrogen fuel."Other forms of biomass were used, such as wood and leaves, of which none needed to be processed prior to the experiments.
"Our sunlight-powered technology is exciting as it enables the production of clean hydrogen from unprocessed biomass under ambient conditions," Erwin Reisner, head of the Christian Doppler Laboratory
for Sustainable SynGas Chemistry, where the technology was developed, said.
"We see it as a new and viable alternative to high temperature gasification and other renewable means of hydrogen production," Reisner added, before going on to say that a range of potential commercial
options were being explored.