Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Vol.105, 58-62, January, 2022
Is mass-scale electrocatalysis of aqueous methanol an energetically and economically viable option for hydrogen production?
The use of primary alcohols (such as methanol) in the production of hydrogen (H2) has been spotlighted as one of the indispensable measures to pursue a greener economy. Here, we address some potential shortcomings concerning the production of H2 based on aqueous methanol electrolysis in reference to steam methane reforming (SMR) as a mature commercial technology. After all, is SMR an economic and low-energy route for H2 production? Is it feasible to use methanol to electrolytically generate H2? The liquid-phase methanol-based hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) at 335 K is an example of a potentially entropy driven reaction (exoergic, even though very endothermic) with a suitable catalyst using either ambient or waste heat. Further, would it be more efficient to use methane as a source of hydrogen via SMR or consume it directly as energy? The suitability of HER is assessed in the context of industrial energy analysis, thermodynamics, and sustainability.
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