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Abstract

The hydrogen economy is fast approaching as petroleum reserves are rapidly consumed. The fuel cell promises to deliver clean and efficient power by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a simple electrochemical device that directly converts chemical energy to electrical energy. Hydrogen, the most plentiful element available, can be extracted from water by electrolysis. One can imagine capturing energy from the sun and wind and/or from the depths of the earth to provide the necessary power for electrolysis. Alternative energy sources such as these are the promise for the future, but for now they are not feasible for power needs across the globe. A transitional solution is required to convert certain hydrocarbon fuels to hydrogen. These fuels must be available through existing infrastructures such as the natural gas pipeline. The present review discusses the catalyst and adsorbent technologies under development for the extraction of hydrogen from natural gas to meet the requirements for the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The primary market is for residential applications, where pipeline natural gas will be the source of H used to power the home. Other applications including the reforming of methanol for portable power applications such as laptop computers, cellular phones, and personnel digital equipment are also discussed. Processing natural gas containing sulfur requires many materials, for example, adsorbents for desulfurization, and heterogeneous catalysts for reforming (either autothermal or steam reforming) water gas shift, preferential oxidation of CO, and anode tail gas combustion. All these technologies are discussed for natural gas and to a limited extent for reforming methanol.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.matsci.33.022802.091348
2003-08-01
2024-06-13
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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