Brussels, 19 Feb 2004
Greek and US researchers have developed a reactor capable of producing hydrogen from ethanol.
The scientists, from the University of Patras and the University of Minnesota, believe that the reactor represents a major step towards a hydrogen economy. It can be employed in small fuel cells capable of generating enough hydrogen for 350 Watt-hours of electricity.
Hydrogen is burnt by fuel cells to produce electricity, the only by-product being water. However, a large proportion of the hydrogen used in fuel cells is produced from natural gas, meaning that the energy is not clean. Ethanol, in contrast, is readily available and could be an efficient store of renewable energy.
The team believes that the reactor is capable of producing five molecules of hydrogen for every molecule of ethanol once the process has been further developed. Electricity produced in this way would cost only 0.03 euro per kilowatt-hour, according to the Greek-US partners, and the first applications could include small and remote portable devices.