Virginia Tech researchers have found a way to make hydrogen fuel by a biological method that uses cheap and abundantly available corn stover (the stalks, cobs and husks) and greatly reduces the time it takes to produce the fuel.

Currently, the main method for producing hydrogen uses natural gas, which is expensive to distribute and causes carbon emissions.

The new process uses enzymes to achieve a three-fold increase in the rate of production, as well as greatly reducing the size of the facility required for the production to about the size of a petrol station.

The use of “dirty biomass”  to make the hydrogen, not only reduces the cost of the fuel, but enables manufacture in small processing plants near a fuel source, enabling the manufacture of the fuel to be a local enterprise.

The reaction does not require extreme temperatures or pressures and the hydrogen can be easily separated from the reactants and enzymes.

The system generates high-purity hydrogen, perfect for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. With its low capital requirements, it is possible that a network of distributed hydrogen generating and fueling stations could be developed  based on this technology.