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Fescue Grass Found To Be Good Hydrogen Source

It’s possible that a new way of sustainably producing hydrogen has been discovered by researchers in the UK from Queen’s University Belfast and the Cardiff Catalysis Institute – using fescue grass, sunlight and a cheap catalyst.

Fescue is often referred to as a cool-season grass, since it can survive well in cold temperatures but tends to decline when the summer sun beats down. The scientists involved in this particular project found that cellulose, an organic compound, is a good potential source of hydrogen and started looking into how it could be converted into hydrogen using a catalyst and sunlight.

Photocatalysis, as this is known, involves the light activating the simple catalyst, which then works to convert cellulose and water into hydrogen.

The team tested the practical applications of a reaction between nickel, gold and palladium catalysts, and found that large amounts of hydrogen could be produced from fescue grass taken from a domestic garden.

The Catalysis Institute’s professor Michael Bowker said: “We’ve demonstrated the effectiveness of the process using real grass taken from a garden. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that this kind of raw biomass has been used to produce hydrogen in this way. This is significant as it avoids the need to separate and purify cellulose from a sample, which can be both arduous and costly.”

Back in February, the Institute also revealed that rare mineral georgeite has been manufactured in large quantities for the first time by Cardiff researchers. Apparently, this mineral boasts great capacity to be used as a catalyst and could improve manufacturing processes of important chemical products.

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