Chemical Barrier to Hydrogen Oxidized

Carbon monoxide has long been a major technical barrier to the efficient operation of fuel cells. But now, chemical and biological engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a method to capture carbon monoxide’s energy.

August 30, 2004 [] James Dumesic, professor of chemical and biological engineering , postdoctoral researcher Won Bae Kim, and graduate students Tobias Voitl and Gabriel Rodriguez-Rivera eliminated the water-gas shift reaction from the process, removing the need to transport and vaporize liquid water in the production of energy for portable applications. The team uses an environmentally benign polyoxometalate (POM) compound to oxidize CO in liquid water at room temperature. The compound not only removes CO from gas streams for fuel cells, but also converts the energy content of CO into a liquid that subsequently can be used to power a fuel cell. Dumesic’s team believes the advance will make possible a new generation of inexpensive fuel cells operating with solutions of reduced POM compounds.