Researchers at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, attest they have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen in a method that can be performed using any source of biomass. “Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” projects Y. H. Percival Zhang, the associate professor of biological systems engineering who is spearheading the initiative.
This environmentally friendly method of producing hydrogen utilizes renewable natural resources, releases almost zero greenhouse gases and doesn’t require costly heavy metals.
Most hydrogen for commercial use is produced from natural gas, which is expensive to manufacture and generates a large amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. “It really doesn’t make sense to use non-renewable natural resources to produce hydrogen,” says Zhang. “We think this discovery is a gamechanger in the world of alternative energy.”