The concept of producing hydrogen from biomass is certainly not a new idea, but past efforts have been too expensive or produced too little hydrogen (or both) to be viable as a source of electricity. Now, a team of researchers using biomass have successfully generated hydrogen from xylose using the "Virginia Tech method" that results in a 100 percent net gain of energy, produces small quantities of greenhouse gas emissions and doesn't require the use of specialized and expensive metals.
According to researcher Y. H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological engineering (pictured on the right), this "technique could help end the human race’s dependence on fossil fuels" and has an estimated market arrival time of just three years.
Though details on the Virginia Tech method are still under wraps, it is known that the process involves pulling enzymes from micro-organisms and combining them with xylose and a polyphosphate. Once these components are combined, hydrogen can be extracted at relatively low temperatures.
When we consider the phenomenal efficiency of the process and that xylose is the second most abundant sugar found in plants, we may all have the ability to power our homes and gardens and launch the era of carbon-neutral gaming by the end of this decade.