Hydrogen made using rust

Date:2 March 2020 Author: Kyro Mitchell

In the search to find an environmentally friendly alternative for fossil fuels, scientists from the Tokyo University of Science developed a new technique for safely and efficiently producing 25 times more hydrogen fuel by using a specific type of rust and light source.

Scientists achieved this new technique by using light from a mercury/xenon lamp, a water-methanol solution and a form of rust called α-FeOOH to act as the catalyst, resulting in the team producing 25 times more hydrogen when compared to the traditional method of using titanium instead of α-FeOOH.

Scientists also discovered that this particular type of rust appears to help stop the hydrogen gas from re-coupling with the oxygen in the container, which allows for easier separation and heading off any potentially explosive hazard. As an added benefit, their new hydrogen-producing configuration went on to produce hydrogen for an astonishing 400 hours.

According to Professor Katsumata, “We were really surprised at the generation of hydrogen using this catalyst because most of the iron oxides are not known to reduce to hydrogen,”

“Subsequently, we searched for the condition for activating α-FeOOH and found that oxygen was an indispensable factor, which was the second surprise because many studies showed that oxygen suppresses hydrogen production by capturing the excited electrons.”

The research done by Professor Katsumata and his team represents key advancements in the production of a clean, zero-emission force of energy. The team now plans on studying what role oxygen plays in activating light-induced α-FeOOH reactions, as the process completely stopped working when oxygen was removed from the reaction chamber.

Image: Unsplash

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