Guwahati: The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, led by Dr Akshai Kumar, has developed a catalyst that can produce hydrogen gas from wood alcohol without any production of carbon dioxide.
This method is environmentally safe and produces formic acid, which is a valuable industrial chemical.
This development makes methanol a promising ‘Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier’ and contributes to the concept of a hydrogen-methanol economy.
Hydrogen gas is the best source of clean energy generation, and it can be produced from bio-derived chemicals such as alcohol.
However, the conventional method of producing hydrogen from wood alcohol has two problems – it requires high temperatures and high pressures and co-produces carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas.
The IIT Guwahati team has found a solution to this problem.
The team developed a ‘pincer’ catalyst that contains a central metal and specific organic ligands. This special catalyst breaks down wood alcohol into hydrogen, generating formic acid instead of carbon dioxide.
The reaction takes place at much lower temperatures then the conventional method, and the catalyst is reusable over many cycles.
The industry collaborator, ChemDist Group of Companies, sees the potential of this research in achieving carbon neutrality.
The technology has the potential to convert abundantly available and cheaper organic chemicals like methanol into hydrogen using a cheaper catalyst without emitting carbon dioxide.