February 17, 2009

New hydrogen purification method created

U.S. chemists say they've developed a class of new porous materials that are very effective at purifying hydrogen by separating it from complex gas mixtures.

Northwestern University Professor Mercouri Kanatzidis and postdoctoral researcher Gerasimos Armatas said their new materials exhibit excellent selectivity in separating hydrogen from carbon dioxide and methane.

A more selective process means fewer cycles to produce pure hydrogen, increasing efficiency, said Kanatzidis. Our materials could be used very effectively as membranes for gas separation. We have demonstrated their superior performance.

Kanatzidis and Armatas said their new materials don't rely on size for separation but on polarization -- the interaction of the gas molecules with the walls of the material as the molecules move through the membrane.

The research is detailed in the online edition of the journal Nature Materials.