TOPIC 'Hydrogen & Hydrogen Cars' on Jan 28, 2009 (CST)
Carbon-Dioxide- Free Hydrogen Is Born
A research group and a university professor have combined capabilities and discovered a method for producing hydrogen from urine and cattle dung. The goal was to manufacture a type of hydrogen that would not give off unwanted carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Hydrogen and oxygen are used together to generate electricity in fuel cells.
The Sumitomo Corporation and the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine have partnered in the development procedure. This methodology can also be applicable to human waste. There is hope that this technology will assist in the development of “household toilet generators.”
In the course of development, the first step in processing the urine and cattle dung is to let it ferment in conditions that are free of oxygen. This step is necessary to extract the ammonia. The ammonia is then “electrolyzed into hydrogen and nitrogen.” The hydrogen can then be transferred to a fuel cell, along with oxygen, where the combination produces the effect of electricity.
Professor Junichi Takahashi with the University and Sumitomo Research group have spent approximately two million yen to construct experimental equipment that can generate the hydrogen from animal waste that has been through the fermentation process. The mechanism is two meters by one meter in size. When combining the device with a fuel cell, the experiment was deemed successful by generating 0.2 watt of electricity. This amount of electricity came from using approximately 20 kilograms of waste from cattle.
Extrapolating the possibilities for generating a certain amount of electricity, it was estimated that an average amount of cattle waste produced at an average cattle farm in Japan would be able to generate enough power to sustain an average household for a period of three days.
Currently, hydrogen is obtained from propane, methanol, heating oil, and utility gas, but those methods produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct. In the case of this new method of obtaining hydrogen, the raw materials are free and no carbon dioxide is produced.
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