Safe and Environmentally-Friendly Hydrogen Gas On-Demand Could Be on the Horizon

Unique hydrogenation research led by CCNY’s Mahesh Lakshman is the inside cover feature in the journal Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis.
Credit: Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis

Chemists Develop Safer Hydrogenation Processes

Safe and environmentally-friendly hydrogen gas on-demand could be on the horizon following a new “hydrogenation” chemical process in development at The City College of New York. Led by Mahesh K. Lakshman, the research uniquely bypasses the need for an external source of hydrogen gas to accomplish a wide range of hydrogenations.  It appears as an inside cover feature in the 2020 issue #1 of journal Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis.

Lakshman explained hydrogenation as the addition of hydrogen atoms. For instance, a very common application is for the production of fats from vegetable oils. In industry, production of paraffin is an example.

“Hydrogenation is an old and well-established method that relies on the use of a finely divided metal such as palladium, often supported on charcoal,” said Lakshman, a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry and a former vice chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It also needs a source of hydrogen gas, which to date is available from compressed hydrogen gas cylinders. These compressed hydrogen gas cylinders are not only expensive but they pose an extreme explosion and fire hazard.”

He noted that the destruction of the Zeppelin Hindenburg airship in New Jersey in 1937 was attributed to this.

The research developed in CCNY’s Division of Science eliminates the need for this compressed gas and results in a safer operational procedure.

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