Researchers north of the border say they’ve made a discovery that could have a significant impact on Iowa’s ethanol industry. University of Minnesota chemical engineering specialist Lanny Schmidt says they’ve found a way to use corn-based ethanol to create hydrogen for use in fuel cells to power all sorts of things — from cars to buildings. Schmidt says “The fuel cell makes electricity with perhaps twice the efficiency of a power plant and that’s the big long term advantage.” Most hydrogen used to power fuel cells comes from non-renewable natural gas, while ethanol is renewable. Schmidt says the process also eliminates the problem of storing the highly unstable element of hydrogen.He says “There’s no accident that could happen that could have hydrogen catch fire or explode because it’s just used as soon as you make it.” Schmidt says the most practical application for this discovery is for homes and farms that need stand-alone electrical power.
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