Virginia Tech Finds Way to Get Hydrogen from Plants

ZhangResearchers at Virginia Tech have found a way to extract hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough touted as possibly bringing a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.

“Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering. “Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future.”

Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory. Zhang’s method can be performed using any source of biomass.

This new environmentally friendly method of producing hydrogen utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost no greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals. Previous methods to produce hydrogen are expensive and create greenhouse gases.

Zhang’s process could hit markets within three years, a marketplace that could be at least $1 trillion just in the United States.

You can read more about it in the journal Angewandte Chemie, International Edition.

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