President Obama will be pleased with a recent development by Rutgers University chemists - one that will help promote his foundation for a clean energy economy. The team of researchers developed a technology that could produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel more cost effective manner.
Led by Tewodros Asefa, an associate professor in Rutgers' School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering, the chemists believe this new efficient technology will expedite the process of replacing harmful fossil fuels with clean-burning hydrogen fuel. The technology is a novel catalyst based on carbon nanotubes that shows promise in producing commercially viable hydrogen fuel from water.
Carbon nanotubes are one-atom-thick sheets of carbon rolled into tubes 10,000 times thinner than human hair. The technology performs electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, and if commercially viable, Asefa says that hydrogen can be produced using electricity through solar, wind, and hydro energy. The need to burn fossils fuels would eventually be phased out.
"Hydrogen has long been expected to play a vital role in our future energy landscapes by mitigating, if not completely eliminating, our reliance on fossil fuels," said Tewodros, in this Rutgers Today news article. "We have developed a sustainable chemical catalyst that, we hope with the right industry partner, can bring this vision to life."
The United States currently produces 100 billion cubic feet of hydrogen annually for a number of industrial applications (1 billion cubic feet of natural gas can power 10,000-11,000 American homes per year). The country is reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as our dependence of foreign oil in order to pave the way for integrating new sources of renewable energy. Such trends, according to the White House, are increasing the country's energy security, cutting carbon pollution, and enhancing economic growth.
There are a number of benefits for using hydrogen as a source of energy. For one, it is produced domestically from several sources and is plentiful in California. Although more will be needed if the country were to switch to such a fueling source, the government is planning to build more hydrogen fueling stations across the country. The element is also environmentally friendly, producing no air pollutants or greenhouse gases when used in fuel cells. The Rutgers University researchers have already filed for a patent on their technology, and if commercially developed, it could play an integral role for the United States' clean energy plan.
You can read more about the technology to produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel in this Phys.org news release.