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Science. 2006 Nov 3;314(5800):801-4.

Renewable hydrogen from nonvolatile fuels by reactive flash volatilization.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science, University of Minnesota, 421 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Droplets of nonvolatile fuels such as soy oil and glucose-water solutions can be flash evaporated by catalytic partial oxidation to produce hydrogen in high yields with a total time in the reactor of less than 50 milliseconds. Pyrolysis, coupled with catalytic oxidation of the fuels and their fragments upon impact with a hot rhodium-cerium catalyst surface, avoids the formation of deactivating carbon layers on the catalyst. The catalytic reactions of these products generate approximately 1 megawatt of heat per square meter, which maintains the catalyst surface above 800 degrees C at high drop impact rates. At these temperatures, heavy fuels can be catalytically transformed directly into hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and other small molecules in very short contact times without the formation of carbon.

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