A team of Researchers at Virginia Tech have created a process to extract large amounts of hydrogen from everyday plants.
The new discovery could be a boom for the hydrogen industry as researchers search for new and renewable sources of energy.
Y.H. Percival Zhang and his team pulled the hydrogen from the plants through the use of xylose, the second most prevalent sugar in plants. According to Zhang:
“Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Hydrogen energy is still in its infancy in terms of everyday use because of logistical challenges that have made its low-cost expansion difficult.
Because Xylose is found in every plant on the planet researchers have essentially found a way to locate and extract hydrogen all around us.
In the past hydrogen was obtained by taking natural gas and reforming it into the new form of energy. The old process in many ways was seen as wasteful and overly complex. The old process also sacrificed valuable resources which would no longer be lost with help from the new process.
While the new process is a move in the right direction, the group notes that research is still in its preliminary stages. The group estimates that it will take at least three years before the procedure for extracting hydrogen from xylose is ready for mass production.
Even with a methodology in place for extracting hydrogen, creating the storage and distribution models for the safe use of the product, especially in automobiles and other volatile areas, is likely still years if not decades away.
If the groups practice of extracting hydrogen from any plant gains widespread approval it could be a challenge to other more environmentally damaging energy sources such as natural gas which relies on fracking and other potentially dangerous extraction methods.
[Image via Engadget]