The possibility of using renewable biomass carbohydrates as a potential high-density hydrogen carrier is discussed here. Gravimetric density of polysaccharides is 14.8 H-2 mass%2where water can be recycled from PEM fuel cells or 8.33%2H-2 mass%2without water recycling; volumetric densities of polysaccharides are >100 kg of H-2/m(3). Renewable carbohydrates (e.g., cellulosic materials and starch) are less expensive based on GJ than are other hydrogen carriers, such as hydrocarbons, biodiesel, methanol, ethanol, and ammonia. Biotransformation of carbohydrates to hydrogen by cell-free synthetic (enzymatic) pathway biotransformation (SyPaB) has numerous advantages, such as high product yield (12 H-2/glucose unit), 100%2selectivity, high energy conversion efficiency (122%2 based on combustion energy), high-purity hydrogen generated, mild reaction conditions, low-cost of bioreactor, few safety concerns, and nearly no toxicity hazards. Although SyPaB may suffer from current low reaction rates, numerous approaches for accelerating hydrogen production rates are proposed and discussed. Potential applications of carbohydrate-based hydrogen/electricity generation would include hydrogen bioreactors, home-size electricity generators, sugar batteries for portable electronics, sugar-powered passenger vehicles, and so on. Developments in thermostable enzymes as standardized building blocks for cell-free SyPaB projects, use of stable and low-cost biomimetic NAD cofactors, and accelerating reaction rates are among the top research & development priorities. International collaborations are urgently needed to solve the above obstacles within a short time. (C) 2010 Professor T. Nejat Veziroglu. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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