Urea as a hydrogen carrier: a perspective on its potential for safe, sustainable and long-term energy supply

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Abstract

Recently, there have been publications reporting the use of urea, as a source of hydrogen/fuel cell power. There have however been no reports that singularly assess the suitability of urea for this purpose. This article provides not only a perspective on the attributes of urea ((NH2)2CO) as a hydrogen carrier for fuel cells but also presents the findings of a review on the feasibility of utilising the enormous natural resource of urea that exists. Urea is a cheap and widely available commodity with well developed manufacturing infrastructure and a rapidly increasing volume of production. This offers rapid implementation of urea for application as a hydrogen carrier either directly or as a source of ammonia. Compared with other industrial chemicals previously considered, urea has the advantages of being non-toxic, stable, and therefore easy to transport and store. This report reveals that the natural resource of urea could be a solution to long-term future sustainable hydrogen supply and that the present status of scientific knowledge necessary to extract this natural resource is in the most part understood. It is considered realistic that these sustainable routes could be exploited if they are given sufficient focus of research attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1244
Number of pages28
JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2011

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