Eggshells: An Important Resource for Hydrogen Fuel Production

Every few days, there’s a story about innovation and science that keeps us thrilled to be in the space we’re in. that’s exactly what happened today when one of our staff members came across a story from Innovations Report called “Engineered eggshells to help make hydrogen fuel”.

Now, the story isn’t new. In fact, it was written nearly two years ago – but the simple storyline has us intrigued to the point that we wanted to share it with our visitors. What’s the big deal? Well, as our article suggests – researchers and engineers at Ohio State University have found a way to turn discarded eggshells into an alternative energy producing resource.

The Innovation Report article has more:

L.S. Fan, Distinguished University Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State, said that he and former Ohio State doctoral student, Mahesh Iyer, hit upon the idea when they were trying to improve a method of hydrogen production called the water-gas-shift reaction. With this method, fossil fuels such as coal are gasified to produce carbon monoxide gas, which then combines with water to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The eggshell plays a critical role.

“The key to making pure hydrogen is separating out the carbon dioxide,” Fan said. “In order to do it very economically, we needed a new way of thinking, a new process scheme.”

That brought them to eggshells, which mostly consist of calcium carbonate — one of nature’s most absorbent materials. It is a common ingredient in calcium supplements and antacids. With heat processing, calcium carbonate becomes calcium oxide, which will then absorb any acidic gas, such as carbon dioxide.

In the laboratory, Fan and his colleagues demonstrated that ground-up eggshells could be used in the water-gas-shift reaction. Iyer performed those early experiments; recent graduate Theresa Vonder Haar also worked on the project for her bachelor’s degree honors thesis.

Calcium carbonate –- a key ingredient in the eggshells — captures 78 percent of carbon dioxide by weight, Fan explained. That means, given equal amounts of carbon dioxide and eggshell, the eggshell would absorb 78 percent of the carbon dioxide.

That makes it the most effective carbon dioxide absorber ever tested.

The article wraps up by telling us that Fan was working with a major egg company to produce large quantities of the eggshell granules for testing. The university also had plans to license the technology for further development.

For more on this amazing feat, please see the full article as well as use the comments area below to let us know if there’s something new in this story that we and other readers should be aware of.

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