Catalyst for hydrogen production based on the formic acid decomposition

This research focuses on formic acid (HCOOH) (which can be produced from carbon dioxide) as a vehicle to store hydrogen. This research brings clarity to the mechanism of hydrogen production which has befuddled scientists until now.

When a platinum catalyst is added to the formic acid solution, a reaction generates hydrogen and causes the syringe to rise.
Left: before adding the catalyst, Right: After adding catalyst

Professor Yutaka Amao of Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, Osaka City University and Yusuke Minami, a 2nd year Master Course student of the Graduate School of Science (M.D.), shine light on the mechanism of platinum nanoparticles that acts as a catalyst for hydrogen production based on the decomposing formic acid.

Fossil fuels have been used as an energy source since the Industrial Revolution, but they are a limited resource and emit a large amount of CO2 when used - which many have suggested to be the main cause of global warming. In recent years, hydrogen (H2) has attracted attention as one of the solutions to this problem as it is a clean and sustainable energy source. In order to transport and store hydrogen safely and efficiently, liquefied hydrogen and ammonia have been considered as energy carriers, but this research focused on formic acid (HCOOH) that can be produced from carbon dioxide.

This is the world's first study to find that platinum nanoparticles (Pt-PVP) dispersed with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) are effective as a catalyst when decomposing formic acid to produce hydrogen.

The results of this research were published in the "Sustainable Energy & Fuels" magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Published: 28 May 2020


Contact details:


Osaka City University
3-3-138 Sugimoto
Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka
558-8585 Japan

Academic discipline: 

Authors: Yusuke Minami, Yutaka Amao
Article Title:Catalytic mechanism for selective hydrogen production based on formate decomposition with polyvinylpyrrolidone dispersed platinum nanoparticles