The University of Oklahoma and Iowa State University receive a $4 million federal grant for clean hydrogen research.
The four-year, $4 million project is funded by the National Science Foundation and will also investigate the potential byproducts and related applications of solid carbon that might result from effectively generating carbon neutral or carbon negative hydrogen energy.
There has been a great deal of excitement in the climate science world around hydrogen-based energy as an alternative to directly combusting fossil fuel-based sources for energy. Hydrogen-energy research aims to produce it cheaply, without greenhouse gas emissions and at scale from water or hydrogen-rich organic compounds. However, there are several methods by which this conversion can take place, which all come with their own benefits and costs.
Hydrogen production by pyrolysis – breaking apart natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon – is a particularly enticing science and engineering goal, as this method produces H2 with a low carbon emission intensity footprint and has an additional benefit of creating solid carbon byproducts, with a potentially high market value of their own.
Steven Crossley, Professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Gallogly College of Engineering, said, “If you were to meet a significant fraction of our energy needs by producing H2 and solid carbon, that would create a huge quantity of excess solid carbon.”
Currently, performance carbon materials such as carbon fibres and nanotubes are expensive to produce and so have been relegated to high-end or niche applications like making lighter cars, drones or advanced composite materials.
They’re studying many applications, like soil amendments, to sequester long-lived carbon in the environment and help crops grow and evaluate their use as water filtration systems to help clean water.