Glimpses of the future: Hydrogen sources for tomorrow


Recent scientific research has hinted at new, natural sources of hydrogen. The findings certainly seem to be timely; particularly as many of the main industrial players have made recent commitments to hydrogen.
In June, Linde agreed to fuel hydrogen powered transit buses in the US. While July has already seen Air Liquide secure a hydrogen research partnership with various Canadian technology bodies. Not to mention Boeing’s latest offering to aviation – the unmanned, hydrogen powered Phantom Eye spy plane.

Consequently, gasworld offers readers a two part glimpse into the future supply of that elusive element – hydrogen.

Part 1: Looking to the leaves for hydrogen
Recent scientific findings from the US’s Yale University have indicated that the industrial gases sector might be looking towards the leaves for hydrogen sources.
Today, Victor Batista, Professor at Yale University and Director of Undergraduate studies in Chemistry, addresses this very issue in a talk entitled, ‘Following Nature’s Blueprint: Mimicking photosynthesis to fuel the planet.”
Batista’s address is the third in a three-part series delivered for free to the regional town of Pinhead, in the United States. His talk is scheduled to highlight current research focusing on the potential of oxygen and hydrogen to provide fuel in a sustainable manner, as occurs every second in the natural kingdom via photosynthesis.
Furthermore, Batista, in his role as a member of the Yale Solar Group, recently discovered a catalyst able to divide water into its basic elements – hydrogen and oxygen – using solely the sun. Batista, commented, “Water may be un-reactive on its own, but within plants it does react. How that reaction happens is still a mystery, but if we can figure it out, we can mimic it to produce energy.”
Batista continued, “The difficult part is figuring out how water reacts in plants so that we can harness the electrons for our energy use. That’s what we’re working on. If we can figure out how plants do this, the electrons can be used to produce environmentally benign fuels and electricity.”
It remains to be seen whether Batista’s research will come to fruition; but it certainly brings a new dimension to hydrogen’s role in environmental issues.

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