Biomass Hydrogen Paper in 29 August Nature

From: Rich Blinne (
Date: Tue Sep 03 2002 - 20:16:17 EDT

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    From: "John Burgeson" <>
    Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 15:44:13 -0600

    >Glenn -- you have a lot of data on how the oil supply is running out.

    >Do you (or anyone) have any ideas on when Nuclear Fusion will replace it?

    >Below is part of an article in NewScientist I came upon today. <SNIP>

    Here's another intriguing development. Extracting hydrogen from glucose
    using an inorganic catylist. If fuel cells could get their hydrogen from
    other than from taking apart water, it could be a big win.


    Review article (need subscription to Nature to see):

    29 August 2002
    Letters to Nature
    Nature 418, 964 - 967 (2002); doi:10.1038/nature01009

    Hydrogen from catalytic reforming of biomass-derived hydrocarbons in liquid


    Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison,
    Wisconsin 53706, USA

    Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to J.A.D.

    Concerns about the depletion of fossil fuel reserves and the pollution
    caused by continuously increasing energy demands make hydrogen an attractive
    alternative energy source. Hydrogen is currently derived from nonrenewable
    natural gas and petroleum, but could in principle be generated from
    renewable resources such as biomass or water. However, efficient hydrogen
    production from water remains difficult and technologies for generating
    hydrogen from biomass, such as enzymatic decomposition of sugars,
    steam-reforming of bio-oils and gasification, suffer from low hydrogen
    production rates and/or complex processing requirements. Here we demonstrate
    that hydrogen can be produced from sugars and alcohols at temperatures near
    500 K in a single-reactor aqueous-phase reforming process using a
    platinum-based catalyst. We are able to convert glucoseówhich makes up the
    major energy reserves in plants and animalsóto hydrogen and gaseous alkanes,
    with hydrogen constituting 50% of the products. We find that the selectivity
    for hydrogen production increases when we use molecules that are more
    reduced than sugars, with ethylene glycol and methanol being almost
    completely converted into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. These findings
    suggest that catalytic aqueous-phase reforming might prove useful for the
    generation of hydrogen-rich fuel gas from carbohydrates extracted from
    renewable biomass and biomass waste streams.

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