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Researchers Generate Hydrogen from Biomass With a 100% Net Gain of Energy

The concept of producing hydrogen from biomass is certainly not a new idea, but past efforts have been too expensive or produced too little hydrogen (or both) to be viable as a source of electricity. Now, a team of researchers using biomass have successfully generated hydrogen from xylose using the "Virginia Tech method" that results in a 100 percent net gain of energy, produces small quantities of greenhouse gas emissions and doesn't require the use of specialized and expensive metals.

According to researcher Y. H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological engineering (pictured on the right), this "technique could help end the human race’s dependence on fossil fuels" and has an estimated market arrival time of just three years.

Though details on the Virginia Tech method are still under wraps, it is known that the process involves pulling enzymes from micro-organisms and combining them with xylose and a polyphosphate. Once these components are combined, hydrogen can be extracted at relatively low temperatures.

When we consider the phenomenal efficiency of the process and that xylose is the second most abundant sugar found in plants, we may all have the ability to power our homes and gardens and launch the era of carbon-neutral gaming by the end of this decade.

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  • Soda-88
    Something tells me that oil/gas companies won't appreciate this.
    Reply
  • leakingpaint
    How many articles do we see of revolutionary technologies that will be ready soon only to never see them in the mainstream. I really really really hope this works without the big companies screwing everything up because of their greed.
    Reply
  • clifdweller
    santeana - of course the ca law wasn't passed. government can't tell a business to produce something ( except china maybe) that would be like telling walmart they have to sell rehydrated prunes in all their stores. As far as hydrogen cars go yes they are simple to build but the cost ofthe hydrogen itself is to high, which by the way is what the virginia tech method is addressing. There are 2 main ways to get hydrogen, one uses electricity through patinum wires which is 68 - 82% efficent. this means more energy(prduced from fossil fuels) is used producing the hydrogen than they get back. The other method involves catalysts whic pring it up to 92- ~ 103% return but the catalysts are some nasty stuff that make nuclear waste look harmless(as in a gallon would pollute all of los angeles' drinking water supply). this new method would be revolutionary with 100% gain and using enzymes which means they should be safe and biodegradable. I hope it pans out
    Reply
  • flamethrower205
    Excellent work - if these results are in fact truthful then this will surely lead to a shift we've sorely needed in energy dependence. +1 planet earth :)
    Reply
  • hetneo
    Now let's find the way to produce hydrogen from those 70%-91% percent of biomass which is not xylose.
    Reply
  • technoholic
    None of these "clean" or "costless" energies will be available soon. In fact it is not likely that we will ever use this type of energy ever. Because governments need us to pay taxes and electricity bills and fuel companies will always need MORE money. Infact governments are owned by those companies as well oO
    Reply
  • Someone Somewhere
    The problem with hydrogen cars isn't just the fuel - the actual fuel cells that convert 2H2 + O2 > 2H20 (looks better with the right subscripts) to release energy are ridiculously expensive and inefficient. Sure, you might be able to make the hydrogen, but using it for anything but heating is pretty expensive and difficult.
    Reply
  • Truckinupga
    Sounds like the answer we have been looking for, But don't get your hopes up. The EPA will find a way to stop it because they don't want anyone using anything but mass transit to get around, Or maybe a bicycle.
    Reply
  • Truckinupga
    Sounds like the answer we have been looking for, But don't get your hopes up. The EPA will find a way to stop it because they don't want anyone using anything but mass transit to get around, Or maybe a bicycle.
    Reply
  • unksol
    10664492 said:
    The problem with hydrogen cars isn't just the fuel - the actual fuel cells that convert 2H2 + O2 > 2H20 (looks better with the right subscripts) to release energy are ridiculously expensive and inefficient. Sure, you might be able to make the hydrogen, but using it for anything but heating is pretty expensive and difficult.

    Fuel cells are not that expensive and costs will drop. Storing and transporting hydrogen in a car is though. And fuel cells are much more efficient than an ICE. 50% at least. As long as you are getting the hydrogen for cheap/free it's a fine idea, just not in cars. Probably never in homes directly either, not enough biomass. But "central" ones running of leaf pickup and organic garbage and crop waste? Sure. anything is better than ethanol

    Labs at one of the tech universities in Germany have been using fuel cells to run a few buildings for years. Why? Well. Cause tech university lol. but guess what the efficiency goes to when ALL that "waste" heat is dumped into your radiant heating system snd hot water and you dont need electric or gas boilers anymore?
    Reply