Skip to comments.Soybean catalyst for hydrogen evolution
Posted on 05/30/2013 7:07:36 PM PDT by neverdem
A catalyst made from soybeans could overcome a major barrier to cheap hydrogen fuel by replacing the platinum catalyst used in the electrocatalytic production of hydrogen, claim scientists in the US.
For hydrogen to be competitive with petroleum fuels, the US Department of Energy has estimated that its cost must be reduced from $45/kg to $23/kg. The platinum catalyst used to make hydrogen via water electrolysis is a significant part of the cost, so the search is on for cheaper catalysts that are just as efficient.
Now, James Muckerman, Wei-Fu Chen and colleagues at Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, have produced a catalyst made from molybdenum an abundant transition metal, around 1500 times cheaper than platinum and ground soybeans.
The team already knew that molybdenum carbide-based catalysts could be used for hydrogen evolution, but they are unstable in strong acid, which is vital for the production process. While looking for new ways to stabilise molybdenum carbide catalysts, Wei-Fu Chen was supervising two high school students, twin sisters Shilpa and Shweta Iyer. Chen tasked the sisters to find an inexpensive source of carbon and nitrogen that could be combined with molybdenum. The students were excited about using familiar materials from their everyday lives, says Muckerman. They brought various samples of leaves, stems, flowers, seeds and legumes to the laboratory for testing. This led to the group discovering that soybeans made good catalysts when mixed with molybdenum.
Carbon and nitrogen from the soybean proteins combined with molybdenum to make molybdenum carbide and molybdenum nitride, respectively. Molybdenum carbide itself is active but not stable in acidic solution, while molybdenum nitride is corrosion resistant but not suitable for hydrogen production. Synergy between the two gave a stable composite material, explains Muckerman. The cheap and easy to prepare material has excellent long-term durability and it catalyses hydrogen production at efficiencies comparable to a platinum catalyst.
Platinum-free catalysts are powerful tools for generating molecular hydrogen as a sustainable fuel source, says Henrik Junge, an expert in electrocatalysts for hydrogen production at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Rostock, Germany. He also wonders if other precursors could be used to generate the catalyst. This would avoid discussions about the competitive usage of biomass for food versus chemical feedstocks.
Muckerman and the team are currently investigating if they can synthesise the catalyst directly onto large-area electrodes to further reduce costs for industrial application.
W-F Chen et al, Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 18181826 (DOI: 10.1039/c3ee40596f)
Thanks for the interesting article. Very nice....
So now people in poor countries will have to forego corn and soybeans as part of their diet, so that we don’t have to use fossil fuels to drive.
and this is a problem why?
It may not be a problem for us, but it could be a problem for those whose diet was primarily soybean or corn.
Not our concern. They would simply have to locate an alternate source of food.
but it is the cost of the electricity used for the electrolysis that wipes out any chance for h2 to become worth the cost of producing it
Yes. I suppose they could try to make rocks work.
It may also be that the chemical in soybeans can be produced artificially
The problems faced by the underdeveloped world are not our direct concern. The problems that directly affect this nation should be dealt with first. As most of that part of the world is controlled by one form or another of dictatorial governments, what ever aid we send would be misappropriated in any case.
I don’t bother with hand-wringing, makes my fingers sore and accomplishes nothing.
Then don’t be concerned if third world countries have to resort to eating rocks.
It’s all good.
GMO soybeans owned by Monsanto that sues farmers for trying to save seed? Michael Taylor former Monsanto guy , 2nd in charge at the FDA? Follow the money.... who in Congress/Executive branch has a vested interest in MONSANTO?
These scumbags are insidious! This is all b/s the elites are making money off of anything...but mostly from evil technology like this.
Science is as “bought” as the IRS... it’s the Chicago way!
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
They already do. But, then, so do we.
Not ALL. There is electricity generated by nuclear.
Oh, please. The amount of soybeans needed to produce the necessary catalyst wouldn't even cause a detectable blip in the multi-megatons of soybeans produced.
That might not be entirely true, there are times when the wholesale value of power goes negative in the middle of the night when usage is very low and the gigawatts of wind turbines that have been installed are working full steam ahead, wind is mostly blowing at night and during those periods wind power producers actually pay the wholesale market to take it since they cannot curtail production per contract and by the nature of the spinning mass of the turbines. At those times when the power us under 2cents or even negative hydrogen from electrolysis would make a ideal way to store and use this surplus power. Here in Texas this happens quite a bit where the wholesale power market goes negative at nights especially spring and fall when weather fronts bring high winds to west Texas at night.
So you spend millions to set up plants in the hopes you get that kind of negativity and every time it happens you get an atta boy but remember just one aw sh** wipes out one attaboy. But even if can mass produce the hydrogen cheaply, exactly what do you do with it without its complete and own storage and distribution network?
What kind of sense does it make to even try when we are sitting on all that coal?
BTW, do you see any credits on your power bill from that “free” power?
The more I think about it why not build wind farms to exclusively produce hydrogen fuel if the use and efficiency of the hydrogen is worth more than the production costs?