Indian scientists develop method to produce hydrogen from methanol, paraformaldehyde mixture

Indian scientists develop method to produce hydrogen from methanol, paraformaldehyde mixture

Researchers have developed an innovative synthetic method to produce hydrogen gas from a mixture of methanol and paraformaldehyde under mild conditions. The method has proven particularly effective for hydrogenating alkynes into alkenes and this combination could be a promising hydrogen carrier, paving the way for advances in chemical synthesis and sustainable energy solutions.

The rapid depletion of fossil fuels has fueled the search for alternative energy sources, highlighting the need for sustainable and renewable resources. Hydrogen gas production is particularly important, as it has the potential to replace fossil fuels in energy storage, transportation, and a variety of chemical processes. Mass-produced methanol and paraformaldehyde have emerged as viable candidates for hydrogen carriers. Their abundance and wide availability make them valuable for hydrogen storage and transportation, offering significant advantages over free hydrogen.

Research led by Professor Ekambaram Balaraman at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Tirupati used commercially available nickel catalyst to produce hydrogen from methanol and paraformaldehyde without the need for alkali or activator. This efficient catalytic system demonstrated remarkable efficiency under mild conditions and the hydrogen generated was successfully used in chemo- and stereo-selective partial hydrogenation of alkynes. This process enabled access to bioactive molecules with improved synthetic value. This research was supported by ANRF (erstwhile SERB, a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)).

This research, accepted for publication in the journal Catalysis Science and Technology, opens a new path for COx-free hydrogen production, contributing to the advancement of the 'hydrogen economy'. The ability to use methanol and paraformaldehyde as hydrogen carriers offers significant potential to address the challenges posed by rising global energy demands. This development marks an important step in the search for sustainable energy solutions.


Pavita Jones