Making Hydrogen from Plants

Apr 5, 2013

Scientists in biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech have succeed in using xylose, a sugar found in plants to produce large quantities of hydrogen in an environmentally friendly way. 

Unlike current methods of making hydrogen gas, Associate Professor Percival Zhang’s process is done at low temperatures, uses no heavy metals and releases almost no green house gases.  His team designed an enzyme cocktail for splitting of the hydrogen.  The result is energy production at a rate of more than 100% efficiency; a level current methods do not reach.

Zhang’s process could reach the market in 3 years.  It’s being called a game changer that could have a major impact on renewable energy production.  The current market for hydrogen gas is around $100 billion, with an estimated capacity of $1 trillion in the US alone.