Engineers and scientists from Rice University have found a new groundbreaking way of producing hydrogen. It is derived from hydrogen sulfide which is known to be highly poisonous and corrosive. It requires only visible light and no external heating.
Naomi Halas – Rice engineer, physicist, and chemist, and her team have created a method that derives energy from light and employs gold nanoparticles to convert hydrogen sulfide into hydrogen and sulfur.
Right now the industry produces hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct of various processes that separate sulfur from petroleum, natural gas, coal, and other products. The demand for hydrogen sulfide is thousands of tons each year.
The production process used now is known as the Claus process, and requires multiple steps, producing sulfur as a result but no hydrogen, which is converted into water.
“Hydrogen sulfide emissions can result in hefty fines for industry, but remediation is also very expensive… The phrase ‘game-changer’ is overused, but in this case, it applies. Implementing plasmonic photocatalysis should be far less expensive than traditional remediation, and it has the added potential of transforming a costly burden into an increasingly valuable commodity,” explained Mrs Halas.
The new process makes the valuable commodity for the energy transition – hydrogen, and is also economical. It is said to have low implementation costs and high efficiency to clean up nonindustrial hydrogen sulfide from sources like sewer gas and animal wastes.