ISSN 1070-4272, Russian Journal of Applied Chemistry, 2014, Vol. 87, No. 5, pp. 608−612. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2014.
Original Russian Text © N.V. Lapin, V.S. Bezhok, A.F. Vyatkin, 2014, published in Zhurnal Prikladnoi Khimii, 2014, Vol. 87, No. 5, pp. 619−623.
Problems related to the growth of the energy produc-
tion and to environment protection account for increas-
ing interest in hydrogen as an alternative energy source,
in particular, for feeding vehicles and portable devices
operating on fuel cells. Fuel cells with proton-conducting
membranes show higher performance than do the pres-
ently used power sources. The main requirements to
current sources are safety, high energy density, and low
weight. The hydrogen stock in the demanded sources
should be no less than 5.5% of the total weight of the
device, including the weight of the reagents, container,
connecting pipes, valves, gaskets, etc. [1, 2].
Among the possible chemical methods for preparation
and storage of hydrogen, the most promising method is
steam conversion of alcohol, in particular, of ethanol,
because ethanol can be prepared from renewable sources.
Also, ethanol is considerably less toxic than methanol
and available hydrocarbons. Furthermore, in contrast
to natural hydrocarbons (naphtha etc.), ethanol does
not contain impurities of sulfur-containing compounds,
which, being catalytic poisons, can poison catalysts used
in ethanol conversion and electrocatalysts of a fuel cell.
Numerous experimental [1–11] and theoretical
[12–15] studies deal with the conversion of ethanol into a
hydrogen-rich gas mixture. Ethanol conversion was stud-
ied on various catalysts: Ni, Co, their alloys with Cu, and
noble metals on various supports . Because the steam
conversion of ethanol is strongly endothermic, the maxi-
mal yield of hydrogen is observed at high temperatures,
usually exceeding 600°С. High temperature of the process
favors formation of a large amount of carbon monoxide,
which poisons the catalyst of the fuel cell anode. The
nature of the catalyst support also plays a certain role in
the selectivity of hydrogen formation. Acidic supports
such as Al
stimulate the dehydration, whereas basic
supports such as MgO favor dehydrogenation [7–11].
Published papers mainly concern the ethanol conver-
sion at high temperatures. At the same time, insufﬁ cient
attention was given to low-temperature conversion of
ethanol [1–6]. Previously [16, 17] we studied the catalytic
conversion of ethanol on the suggested nickel and binary
nickel–copper catalysts on SiO
support. The catalytic
steam conversion of ethanol on these catalysts occurs
relatively efﬁ ciently with a yield of 2 mol of hydrogen per
Preparation of Hydrogen for Feeding Fuel Cells
by Low-Temperature Conversion of Ethanol
on Ni/ZnO and Ni
N. V. Lapin, V. S. Bezhok, and A. F. Vyatkin
Institute of Microelectronics Technology and High Purity Materials,
Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Akademika Osip’yana 6, Chernogolovka, Moscow oblast, 142432
Received May 23, 2014
Abstract—Preparation of hydrogen by low-temperature steam conversion of ethanol on nickel and binary nickel–
copper catalysts supported on zinc oxide was studied experimentally in the temperature interval 200–450°С.
High efﬁ ciency of hydrogen evolution in the course of ethanol conversion on these catalysts was demonstrated.
At temperatures lower than 350°С, the main conversion products are hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide,
and carbon dioxide. At 400°С, the conversion products contain no carbon monoxide, which allows the mixture
obtained to be used for feeding fuel cells with proton-conducting membranes.