New method of hydrogen production could help make hydrogen fuel cell technology more affordable

Making hydrogen from industrial waste

A novel method of hydrogen-generation from water and formaldehyde could help find new use for industrial waste.

The method, developed by researchers from the University of Cologne, Germany, and described in the latest issue of Nature Communications, could help advance the fuel cell technology, which focuses on utilisation of hydrogen produced from liquids.  

According to the research team, led by Martin Prechtl and Leo Him from the University of Cologne’s Department of Chemistry, the new approach could be used to recycle industrial waste water contaminated with formaldehyde to break down the contaminants whilst simultaneously generating hydrogen.

With the aid of this method, it is possible to reclaim an important raw material from industrial waste water. Prechtl and his colleagues have also identified an air-stable and robust catalyst that can be employed to facilitate hydrogen production using the new technique. The researchers have already filed a corresponding patent application.

Formaldehyde is one of the most important raw materials used in chemical engineering; around 30 million tonnes of the substance are produced annually around the world. It is therefore available as a source of hydrogen in large quantities and at low cost.

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