Breakthrough in Hydrogen Fuel Production: The Future of Renewable Energy (Fuel) in Plants

There's a new way to gather fuel from a renewable resource. Researchers have found a way to extract vast quantities of hydrogen from any plant using a breakthrough method that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.

In order to accomplish this feat, the researchers combined xylose, the most abundant plant sugar, and a cocktail of enzymes that were artificially isolated from different microorganisms that thrive at extreme temperatures. They then added polyphosphate and used mild reaction conditions at 122 degrees Fahrenheit and normal atmospheric pressure. In the end, the scientists liberated three times as much hydrogen as other hydrogen-producing microorganisms.

"Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels," said Y.H. Percival Zhang, the lead researcher, "Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future." Hydrogen fuel does indeed have the potential to dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Currently, automobile manufacturers are attempting to develop vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells. Unlike cars that run on gas, these hypothetical vehicles would only produce water as a "pollutant."

Before now, though, there wasn't a way to create the hydrogen fuel these cars would need in a cost-effective manner. Challenges to the commercial production of hydrogen gas from biomass included not only the high cost of the processes to make it, but also the relatively low quantity that was produced. The researchers' new method, though, could provide all the fuel that these cars would need.

Unfortunately, it may be quite some time before these cars are actually created. Yet if they are created, they may just have a fuel source to use that could be environmentally friendly.

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