Rust is not such a useless thing. For example, it is able to protect spacecraft from radiation. But this is far from all: Japanese researchers have found a new application for it, thanks to which nature will become cleaner, and the transition of the country to clean energy will be closer every day.
Japan plans to switch to clean energy in the future – hydrogen is considered an ideal candidate for the role of green fuel. The process of obtaining it has long been worked out – various catalysts are used for this. But according to scientists, using rust in the reaction, they managed to increase the yield of hydrogen by using light from organic waste by 25 times.
Now the mass production of hydrogen is hindered by low payback, since electrolysis consumes a large amount of water and energy. In addition, a lot of carbon is released as an adverse reaction, which puts the environmental friendliness of the process into question. A more “pure” photocatalytic process was invented in the 1970s, but it requires expensive titanium dioxide as a reagent.
The new experiment involved light from a mercury-xenon lamp, a water-methanol solution, and a form of rust called α-FeOOH as a catalyst. It was this composition that made it possible to increase the yield of finished hydrogen by 25 times. Researchers noted that metal oxide also helps prevent hydrogen gas from reconnecting with oxygen in the container, avoiding a potentially explosive situation. The stable operation of the technology was confirmed during four hundred hours of production.
Although the new methodology still requires the use of water, it is much more efficient and cheaper than traditional methods. The timing of the start of industrial production of hydrogen by the original technology is not reported.