Scientists Develop New Copper Catalyst to Turn Plastic into Hydrogen
Scientists Develop New Copper Catalyst to Turn Plastic into Hydrogen
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, January 24, 2017

DAEJEON, (Korea Bizwire) – A team of scientists from Changwon National University has developed an eco-friendly copper catalyst that can efficiently produce hydrogen from waste material like plastic and vinyl. 

According to the researchers, there has been active research on gasifying plastic and vinyl using higher temperatures to develop hydrogen. Although this is seen as a solution to the globally rising cost of disposing some waste materials, one of the current methods using an iron-chrome catalyst emits chrome, thus posing environmental concerns, in addition to the fact that it requires a complex preconditioning environment. 

There is an alternative of using a copper-aluminum catalyst, but this can lead to a rapid drop of activity levels at high temperatures when the copper agglomerates, said the team. 

The scientists focused on the latter method, and by coating the copper with cerium, they developed a cerium-copper-aluminum catalyst that overcomes the existing setback. 

The new catalyst is much more active with a higher processing capacity, the team said, adding that it is also environmentally friendly since it does not require the use of chrome. 

After using the new catalyst in a waste processing environment, the researchers discovered that it maintained its stability even after 40 hours of application, a period during which conventional copper-aluminum catalysts typically became less efficient. 

“We developed a manufacturing technology for an eco-friendly copper catalyst that is essential for the economical production of hydrogen from wasted resources,” said Dr. Jeong Dae-woon, who led the team. “We expect our technology to play a significant role in converting waste materials into energy, including hydrogen, methanol, and dimethyl ether.” 

The full research findings were published in Chemical Engineering Journal on December 15.

By Lina Jang