Sustainable Low-Temperature Hydrogen Production from Lignocellulosic Biomass Passing through Formic Acid: Combination of Biomass Hydrolysis/Oxidation and Formic Acid Dehydrogenation

Ju Hyoung Park, Min Ho Jin, Dong Wook Lee, Young Joo Lee, Gyu Seob Song, Se Joon Park, Hueon Namkung, Kwang Ho Song, Young Chan Choi

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Hydrogen production from renewable resources, such as lignocellulosic biomass, is highly desired, under the most sustainable and mildest reaction conditions. In this study, a new sustainable three-step process for the production of hydrogen has been proposed. In the first step, a crude formic acid (CF) solution, which included typical reaction byproducts, in particular, acetic acid, levulinic acid, saccharides, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, furfural, and lignin, was obtained through the combined hydrolysis/oxidation of the biomass, in the presence of diluted sulfuric acid/hydrogen peroxide, as homogeneous catalysts. In the second one, the distilled formic acid (DF) solution was obtained by distillation of the CF solution, for example, by isolating liquid byproducts, or the lignin-free CF (LCF) solution was recovered by CF filtration for the elimination of only solid lignin particles. In the final step, hydrogen was produced from the DF or LCF solutions through formic acid dehydrogenation over Pd supported on amine-functionalized mesoporous silica catalysts, in the presence of sodium formate, as an additive. The clean hydrogen, which is produced from biomass passing through formic acid, could be applied as an energy source of fuel cells. This new hydrogen production process is smart, allowing the hydrogen production with mild reaction conditions, eventually starting from different lignocellulosic feedstocks, and it could be integrated within the existing hydrothermal technology for levulinic acid production, which has been already recognized as efficient and sustainable. In addition to the production of hydrogen as an energy source of fuel cells, formic acid derived from biomass could be utilized as a platform chemical for chemical, agricultural, textile, leather, pharmaceutical, and rubber industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14041-14053
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 3


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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