Turning Stinky Gas into Clean Fuel
The American Chemical Society journal ACS Sustainable Chemical Engineering details a novel process that transforms hydrogen sulfide, the stinky gas often associated with the sewer, into hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen sulfide is emitted from sewer pipes and also results from industrial activities such as oil and gas refining, mining, and producing paper.
Researchers at the Ohio State University discuss how hydrogen sulfide is one of the most toxic gasses in the environment. It can lead to the corrosion of pipes and the deterioration of the health of those who encounter it. This fact encouraged many researchers to find a way to convert this dangerous gas into a usable form of energy.
The research team utilized the process of chemical looping, which includes adding metal oxide particles into high-pressure reactors that combust fossil fuels without involving air or fuel to produce energy. To break down fossil fuels, the process initially used iron oxide to convert fossil fuels into renewable power without releasing carbon dioxide.
However, iron oxide was not capable of supporting large energy systems that the industrial sector relies on. In an effort to discover a solution that is not only inexpensive but could also catalyze this reaction in larger quantities, the research team found that a small amount of molybdenum, an inexpensive option, could work.
While this work is still easy in the scientific process, it has the potential to alter the landscape of renewable energy since the process has been proved to work in the lab. Further tests on the industrial level will shed light on whether this practice is sustainable and sufficient to support the energy systems our society currently depends on. Additionally, there will be one less threatening gas to deal with in the world.