Basque Researchers Announce Successful extraction of hydrogen from an encapsulated gas using novel optical method
Mr Ángel Rubio, Professor of Material Physics and Director of the NanoBio Spectroscopy team at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), has worked with two other scientists, Yoshiyuki Miyamoto, from the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Hong Zhang, from the University of Sichuan (China), on research into the processes of encapsulation of hydrogen. The research, entitled “Pulse-induced nonequilibrium dynamics of acetylene inside carbon nanotube studied by an ab initio approach”*, was published online on the 21st of May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.
The researchers managed to extract hydrogen from an easy-to-obtain and low-cost gas – acetylene – encapsulated in carbon nanostructures. To this end, they used a novel method based on ultra-rapid lasers. In concrete, what they did was to confine acetylene molecules to the inside of a carbon tube of approximately one nanometre in diameter, in order to activate the rupture of the carbon-hydrogen links in the acetylene and thus free the hydrogen. “As happens with persons, when a group of molecules are enclosed in a small space, they become uncomfortable and, with the minimum contact, they react to each other. In the case of acetylene, the extraction of hydrogen requires the rupture of its carbon-hydrogen links, which are very strong, so that, after confining the molecules in the tube, we used a pulsed laser in order to break these links and free the hydrogen”, explained Ángel Rubio.
The conclusions of the research are a step forward in the quest for alternative fuels. “The large-scale use of hydrogen as a source of energy is not something viable yet, given its instability and the hazards involved in its storage in small spaces, but the possible implementation of pulsed laser as a method of freeing the hydrogen present in certain hydrocarbons is undoubtedly a step forward”, concluded Ángel Rubio.
* Pulse-induced nonequilibrium dynamics of acetylene inside carbon nanotube studied by an ab initio approach, Yoshiyuki Miyamoto, Hong Zhang, and Angel Rubio