IIT Guwahati Researchers Develop Catalyst To Produce Sustainable Green Hydrogen Fuel

IIT Guwahati Researchers Develop Catalyst To Produce Sustainable Green Hydrogen Fuel

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Guwahati have developed a catalyst that can produce sustainable green hydrogen fuel from wood alcohol with no carbon dioxide as a byproduct, according to officials.

The easy and environmentally safe process also produces formic acid which is a useful industrial chemical. This makes methanol a promising Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) and contributes to the concept of a hydrogen-methanol economy, the officials said. The research has been published in journal ACS Catalysis.  

Akshai Kumar AS, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT-Guwahati said the world is moving towards finding alternatives to fossil fuels, and hydrogen gas continues to be the best source of clean energy generation. "Currently, hydrogen is produced either by the electrochemical splitting of water or from bio-derived chemicals such as alcohol. In the latter method, hydrogen is typically produced from methyl alcohol (commonly called wood alcohol) using a catalyst, in through a process called methanol reforming.

"There are two problems with the catalytic production of hydrogen from wood alcohol. The first is that the process involves high temperatures in the range of 300 degrees Celsius and at high pressures (20 atmosphere). Secondly, the reaction co-produces carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. This is where we have found a solution," Kumar said.

The researcher explained that in methanol-reforming, in stark contrast to well-reported catalytic systems that act like "Brahmastra" and results in a complete destruction to carbon dioxide. The current work involves a smart strategy to design pincer (crab-like) catalysts that selectively produce high-value formic acid and clean-burning hydrogen.