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Taiwan study on production of hydrogen from rice straw

9 December 2013

Researchers in Taiwan report on the production of hydrogen from rice straw fed into a microwave plasma system in a paper in the journal Fuel. They evaluated the conversion rate according to the concentration of hydrogen and other gas products (CO2 and CO).

When feed rice straws into the microwave plasma system at 800 W, 900 W, and 1000 W using an upstream method, the concentrations of hydrogen production were 48%, 53%, and 56%, respectively.

Using a downstream method, the concentrations of hydrogen production were 34%, 40%, and 45%, respectively. These results indicate that the upstream feeding method is more favorable than the downstream for hydrogen production, and an increase of power can enhance the production of hydrogen.

Optimal hydrogen production is achieved when rice straws are fed into the system using the upstream method at a power of 1000 W; each gram of rice straw produced approximately 40.47 mg of hydrogen (conversion rate = 67.45%).

—Lin et al.


  • Yuan-Chung Lin, Tzi-Yi Wu, Wan-Yu Liu, Yi-Hsing Hsiao (2014) “Production of hydrogen from rice straw using microwave-induced pyrolysis,” Fuel, Volume 119, Pages 21-26, doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2013.11.046

December 9, 2013 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


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Another way to convert non-food feed stocks into storable hydrogen for clean running vehicles and other uses?

With CO and H2 you make synthetic liquid hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Rice straw has lots of silica in it, but that can be dealt with.

Now if you get the electricity for the microwaves from renewable sources, you are on your way to supplying 200 million vehicles with some sustainable energy. We would like to see more EVs, but those PHEVs need fuel and oil is not the only way.

The general carbohydrate unit CH2O is 2/30 = 6.7% hydrogen by mass.  This process yields about 4%, which isn't bad at all.  The question should be what's the feed rate, in grams per second?  That gives the efficiency.

Gasifying biomass (or perhaps torrefied biomass) could be used to make methanol in relatively simple chemical reactors.  Methanol is an adequate, if not superior, motor fuel for most purposes aside from aviation (where its lower energy density is a major drawback).

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