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A new catalyst enables lower-temperature H2 production using the sulfur-iodine cycle

By Tetsul Satoh |

Among the many different ways being investigated for making hydrogen “from water” is the so-called sulfur-iodine (S-I) cycle, which involves three chemical reactions whose net products are H2 and O2: the decomposition of sulfuric acid into SO2, H2O and O2; the decomposition of hydrogen iodide into H2 and I2; and the regeneration of H2SO4 and HI by the Bunsen reaction (I2 + SO2 + 2H2O → 2HI + H2SO4). Because the S-I cycle requires only water and heat, it has the potential for making H2 using solar energy as the heat source.     One of the main drawbacks of the S-I cycle (in addition to the use of corrosives materials) is the high temperature (900°C) required for the decomposition of H2SO4 — the most energy-intensive step. Up to now, only expensive platinum-based catalysts have been developed to lower the temperatures required for this step in the cycle.       A new catalyst — a macroporous-supported Cu-V oxide — has been developed by professor Masato Machida at Kumamoto University (Kumamoto; www.chem.kumamoto-u.ac.jp/~lab0/machida), in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota; Tokyo, both Japan), that enables the decomposition of H2SO4 to occur at 600°C.       The…
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