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Researchers Generate Hydrogen as a Source of Energy from Ethanol and Sunlight

A research team formed by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and the University of Auckland has devised a method that generates hydrogen as an energy source by making use of sunlight and ethanol.

The research findings have been published in Nature Chemistry. The research is an important milestone in promoting the use of hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels.

A photocatalyst was created to generate hydrogen at normal temperatures and pressures, thus, making the production technique simple and cost-efficient. The photocatalyst was housed in a container along with ethanol and exposed to ultraviolet rays. The electrons that are generated from the catalyst are captured by metallic gold nanoparticles, which produce hydrogen when made to react with ethanol. The quantity of hydrogen produced is proportional to the amount of catalyst and the area that is exposed to UV rays. Researchers were able to produce up to five litres of hydrogen by using one kilogram of catalyst in one minute.

Jordi Llorca, who is the director of the Institute of Energy Technology and researcher at UPC, intends to extend the research findings to real-life applications such as providing electricity for homes. When compared to other alternative resources for generating electricity, usage of ethanol is considered as the most economically viable option. The photocatalyst that has been used in the process is also easily available at low cost and is more durable.

The research team also discovered that the amount of hydrogen produced is not dependent on the size of the gold nanoparticles. Other processes for generating hydrogen require the catalyst material to be heated up to the reaction temperature, which leads to additional energy costs.

Source: http://www.upc.edu/

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