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Virginia Tech learns how to get hydrogen from any plant, might lower fuel cell costs

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 5, 2013
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Hydrogen fuel cell cars have any number of hurdles to overcome, whether it's widespread adoption or the basic matter of locating a place to fill up. If a Virginia Tech discovery pans out, getting the fuel itself won't be one of those challenges. The new combination of a polyphosphate with a special blend of enzymes lets researchers extract meaningful quantities of hydrogen from any biological element that includes xylose -- in other words, the sugar that's present in every plant to at least some degree. The process is potentially more eco-friendly than most, as well. While you'd expect it to be renewable given the main ingredients, it also reduces the need for metals and cuts back sharply on the volume of necessary greenhouse gases. Most importantly, the findings could reach the commercial world as soon as three years from now. If they do, they could lower the price of hydrogen fuel by making it more accessible, all the while avoiding much of the guilt trip that comes with using polluting technology to generate clean energy.

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