A new process of producing hydrogen from methanol through a catalytic reaction under ambient conditions offers a sustainable and green method of manufacturing the much-needed clean fuel.
Hydrogen is considered one of the cleanest sources of energy that can be easily obtained from indigestible biomass or bio-derived alcohols. Various methods can generate hydrogen, but the cost of hydrogen depends on how environmentally friendly and energy efficient the production process is. Water and methane are the main sources of hydrogen on Earth, but extracting pure hydrogen from them consumes a lot of energy through techniques such as natural gas reforming electrolysis, and water-splitting reactions.
Notably, methanol can serve as a potential candidate for a hydrogen source owing to its gravimetric hydrogen content of 12.6% and its effective conversion to H2 and CO2 as final products. Aqueous methanol can be considered as a potential source for the amplification of transfer hydrogenation and C1 chemistry.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Tirupati, devised a feasible method to produce molecular hydrogen from dehydrogenating simple feedstock chemicals like methanol and effectively transferred hydrogen to produce highly value-added chemicals and pharmaceuticals, with support from SERB, an attached institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
They used commercially available ruthenium complex under mild conditions as a catalyst to generate hydrogen from methanol through a clean chemical dehydrogenation reaction and used the applicability of methanol as a potential transfer hydrogenation agent for the catalytic reduction of various functional compounds. The research was published in the Journal of Catalysis.
“We are especially interested in using methanol as a source of hydrogen and methyl groups for selective reduction and N-methylation reactions. This can be seen as a potential way to enhance transfer hydrogenation and C1 chemistry,” the scientists pointed out.
Overcoming the challenge of developing effective catalytic methods for transforming methanol into valuable products, the researchers have also demonstrated that hydrogen liberated from methanol feedstock can be effectively utilized for the sustainable and affordable synthesis of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Methanol can act as a potential hydrogen carrier, which makes it very useful in synthetic organic chemistry since it is easier to store and transport than free hydrogen. Thus, the developed strategy opens a new avenue in both fundamental research and industrial applications for making bulk and fine chemicals.
In addition, the applicability of deuterated methanol in the preparation of deuterium-labeled compounds and bioactive molecules is also of growing interest in pharmaceutical sciences.