Osaka University researches hydrogen production without pollution

The utilization of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source is still hindered by a number of obstacles, but Osaka University researchers have made headway in eliminating many of them.

The existing method of production of hydrogen is a significant barrier to its widespread use as a fuel. There are other ways to create hydrogen, such as by combining natural gas with high-temperature steam, but these processes create crude hydrogen instead of usable hydrogen since the harmful gases they include are difficult to extract.

Hydrogen extraction from the raw mix including the by-products is challenging since all pollutants must be carefully eliminated for commercial usage by multi-step, energy-intensive processes that are independently tailored for each contaminant.

Liquid organic hydrogen carriers, the best form of hydrogen storage, are limited in their ability to store hydrogen due to the difficulty of removing it from typical pollutants. Researchers have spent years trying to figure out how to get carriers in these systems to absorb, or store, hydrogen when there are harmful gases present.

In order to get around these problems, Hoshimoto and his team created non-perishable triaryl boranes that could absorb hydrogen even when there were common air pollutants present. This allowed them to achieve the ground-breaking outcomes of hydrogen storage (up to 99% efficient) and subsequent hydrogen release with a purity of up to 99.9%.

This work demonstrated the potential to boost the economic sustainability of hydrogen as an energy vector by achieving proof of concept for a novel hydrogen production technique that does away with the requirement for separate purification stages prior to storage.