Hydrogen breakthrough fuels new technology research

Hydrogen on the periodic table

Hydrogen breakthrough fuels new technology research

The future of energy production has long been a source of concern for scientists. Now, following a recent discovery by a team including Catz Fellow Professor Peter Edwards, one answer could lie in the safe use of hydrogen for powering vehicles.

The main obstacle facing scientists working on hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles has been finding a storage method that does not put drivers and passengers at risk. That obstacle could soon be overcome by using benign hydrocarbon wax as a storage medium.

The research team from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff in the UK, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia, has shown that hydrocarbon wax rapidly releases large amounts of hydrogen when activated with catalysts and microwaves. Hydrogen is extracted using a non-oxidative dehydrogenation process which means that it produces no carbon dioxide, and it is readily available utilising biomass or other renewable feedstocks, making it better for the environment too.

This discovery, published in the journal Scientific Reports, may help unlock the longstanding bottleneck hindering the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel technology. Professor Edwards, who co-authored the study, leads the KACST-Oxford Petrochemical Research Centre (KOPRC). He commented that “this discovery of a safe, efficient hydrogen storage and production material can open the door to the large-scale application of fuel cells in vehicles. Instead of burning fossil fuels, leading to CO2, we use them to generate hydrogen, which with fuel cells produces electric power and pure water. This is the future – transportation without CO2 and hot air.”