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November 30, 2020

How a common household cleaner could help fuel a transportation revolution

A new technique seamlessly converts ammonia to green hydrogen. The method was developed by researchers at Northwestern University with support from the National Science Foundation and overcomes several roadblocks to hydrogen distribution. It could be an important step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles and other modes of transportation.

Credit: National Science Foundation/Karson Productions

Clean conversion.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files – new advances in science and engineering -- from NSF the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Our cars (start), trucks (pass), trains (bell), ships (horn), airplanes (flyby) account for about 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. With support from NSF, a team at Northwestern University has taken an important step to help decrease that number. Part of a long effort to increase use of clean hydrogen for fuel. Their new method overcomes several existing roadblocks: temperature, transport, and storage.

Hydrogen is expensive to move, with no infrastructure for moving it but there’s already an extensive delivery system for ammonia -- which is made of nitrogen and -- wait for it -- Hydrogen. Northwestern’s concept? Send ammonia down existing pipelines, then convert it to hydrogen on site.

Their new ammonia-splitting process is super-efficient. It can be done with renewable electricity, and generates pure hydrogen... that can be pressurized for high density storage. As far as using it say, in your car there’d be a fuel cell that will produce electricity as long as hydrogen is supplied. Running low? Stop into a fueling station and get some more.

That’s all someday. And when it comes, gonna make my ride a mean, clean, lean, green machine.

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