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Making hydrogen from methanol

By Tetsuo Satoh |

The research group of professor Ken-ichi Fujita at Kyoto University (Kyoto, www.h.kyoto-u.ac.jp) has developed an efficient catalytic system for the production of hydrogen from an aqueous methanol solution. The process uses a new, anionic iridium complex bearing a functional bipyridonate ligand as a catalyst. This system operates in a weakly basic solution (0.046 mol/L of NaOH) and mild temperatures (below 100°C), which is far below the high temperatures (more than 700°C) needed to steam reform hydrocarbons into H2, as well as the 200°C needed to generate H2 from methanol by other catalytic processes, says Fujita. Also, the process does not require an additional organic solvent, which makes it simpler and safer than the recently developed homogeneous transition-metal-complex catalyst system, which uses organic solvents such as tetrahydrofuran, toluene and 2,5,8,11-tetraoxadodecane (triglyme) at rather strong basic conditions (8.0 mol/L of KOH). The new, water-soluble iridium-complex catalyst is highly active for generating H2 by dehydrogenation of methanol. In laboratory trials, an 80% yield for H2 and CO2 was observed with 0.5 mol% of the catalyst using a 1-to-4 mixture of methanol in water after refluxing for 20 h at 88°C. The…
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