|A novel take on dehydrogenation: from alkanes (oil, more specifically diesel) to hydrogen fuel with elemental carbon as the only side-product. Compare that to the current proven technology steam reforming that goes from methane and water to hydrogen and not carbon but carbon monoxide. Xiangyu Jie et al. explain it in a recent Angewandte article (DOI). They ran hexadecane (a typical diesel constituent) for 30 minutes through a microwave containing a iron-nickel silicon carbide (Fe-Ni/SiC) catalyst at 5.5% loading and measured 97% hydrogen conversion. The catalyst can survive 5 cycles of fresh alkane addition. The presence of nickel in the catalyst disperses the metal on the SiC surface and prevents the formation of iron carbide. In this process microwaves beat thermal heating which suffers from liquid evaporation. |
Diesel engines are controversial because they pollute the environment, their phasing-out would eventually leave the oil industry with a big pile of petrofuel, a particular fractional distillate with no other known uses. Clever dehydrogenation would make this pile go away again.