Chemists are describing development of a “revolutionary” process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen, which could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants.
The process involves combining plant sugars, water, and a cocktail of powerful enzymes to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide under mild reaction conditions. They say it is the world’s most efficient method for producing hydrogen.
The new system helps solve the three major technical barriers to the so-called “hydrogen economy,” researchers said. Those roadblocks involve how to produce low-cost sustainable hydrogen, how to store hydrogen, and how to distribute it efficiently, the researchers say.
“This is revolutionary work,” says lead researcher Y.-H. Percival Zhang, Ph.D., a biochemical engineer at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. “This has opened up a whole new direction in hydrogen research. With technology improvement, sugar-powered vehicles could come true eventually.”