Friday, October 2, 2009

Herbicide as a catalyst to generate electricity from carbohydrates ?

In the recent times we have seen many research groups working on biofuels or alternative energy sources. This article is really interesting, here in the researchers (Brigham Young University) claim that with a help of a herbicide (they have'nt mentioned the name, but say a common herbicide which is cheap also) have developed a fuel cell – basically a battery with a gas tank – that harvests electricity from glucose and carbohydrates.

Deriving electrical energy from glucose and other carbohydrates under mild conditions is an important research objective because these biomolecules are abundant, renewable, have high energy density, and are convenient as fuels. The researchers Gerald Watt, claim that viologen catalysts meet these demanding criteria by catalytically oxidizing glucose and other carbohydrates in a mildly alkaline solution, making possible a direct carbohydrate fuel cell. Formate and carbonate are major products of carbohydrate oxidation, demonstrating that extensive carbon–carbon bond breaking has occurred. A rudimentary fuel cell utilizing viologen catalysts and glucose or dihydroxyacetone as fuels demonstrated electrical power production at up to 20 mA/cm2 superficial current density. Improved catalyst function and cell design should significantly advance the efficiency and viability of direct carbohydrate fuel cell technology as a means of generating electrical energy from renewable biomass.

The effectiveness of this cheap and abundant herbicide is a boon to carbohydrate-based fuel cells. By contrast, hydrogen-based fuel cells like those developed by General Motors, require costly platinum as a catalyst. Congrats for this innovative idea....

Ref :

No comments: