Fast Production of Hydrogen may Lead to Clean Fuel
Scientists have made a discovery that could increase the amount of hydrogen available to use as clean fuel. By increasing the speed at which the natural process takes place to form hydrogen in rocks deep below the surface of the Earth, hydrogen may be more widely available to use as a clean fuel resource. Hydrogen is currently being used in rockets and in battery-like fuel cells while research is being done to increase the use of hydrogen as fuel for vehicles that will not produce pollutants that harm the environment. Until now, the high costs associated with the use of hydrogen as a fuel source have hampered the results.
According to an article in Science News Daily, researchers in France have found that using aluminum oxide resulted in acceleration of the process that results in the natural production of hydrogen. When water comes into contact with olivine, a common type of rock, under high temperatures and great pressures that are found at great depths, the process takes place. With the addition of aluminum oxide, the process occurred between 7 and 50 times faster when temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees Celsius, and a pressure equal to twice the depth of the deepest ocean, were used. The process turns olivine into the mineral serpentine and the two components that make up water, hydrogen and oxygen, are split apart.
In comparison to the process commonly used today to produce hydrogen, this process requires much lower temperatures than the 700 degrees Celsius that must be obtained. The new process which uses aluminum oxide would save both time and money.
Hydrogen works as a fuel source when fuel cells meld hydrogen and oxygen in the air to create electricity. The process only emits water, making it the ideal solution for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and the air pollution, which are problems resulting from using fossil fuels. While it may take decades to make the transition to a carbon-free global solution, these findings could result in a growing demand for hydrogen fuel cells.