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Fuel-Cell Cars: German researchers achieve milestone in hydrogen research

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As reports, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) in Rostock are celebrating a new "hydrogen breakthrough". After years of research, it is now possible to convert methanol back into hydrogen under gentle conditions.

Until now, high pressure and several hundred degrees Celsius were necessary to convert methanol into hydrogen. This has so far made it impossible to use this technology on a commercial scale. In addition, the hydrogen thus obtained must have a certain degree of purity.

Topic leader Dr. Henrik Junge explains, "Methanol, unlike pure hydrogen, is easy to handle and can be transported over long distances". If required, the methanol could then be converted back into hydrogen and used in a fuel cell, e.g. in a car or a heating system, to generate electricity.

With the Metha-Cycle project, the new process is part of this, the cards are being reshuffled. Since as early as 2013, researchers have been trying to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide from a liquid methanol solution using a ruthenium catalyst under conditions of less than one hundred degrees. The researchers have now succeeded in doing this for the first time. A test facility at the Friedrich-Alexander University has already been able to prove its functional efficiency in 500 hours of operation. The plant is continuously filled with methanol and steam. The hydrogen produced in the process is directly discharged into a fuel cell. This fuel cell, developed at the Center for Fuel Cell Technology (ZBT), continuously produces 39 watts of electricity.