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Cheap, efficient method to produce hydrogen fuel discovered

Using the new method hydrogen can be produced without creating waste carbon

Press Trust of India  |  Houston 

Cheap, efficient method to produce hydrogen fuel discovered

University of Houston physicists have found a new way of splitting water into and which could be an effective method of producing an abundance of clean fuel in the future.

This discovery would solve one of the primary hurdles of using water to produce hydrogen, the university release said.


"is the cleanest primary energy source we have on Earth. Water could be the most abundant source of if one could separate the from its strong bond with in the water by using a catalyst. To split water into and oxygen, two reactions are needed - one for each element," Paul C W Chu, one of the team members, said.

The main issue has been getting an efficient catalyst for the part of the equation, which is what these researchers say they have now cracked.

The catalyst is made up of a ferrous metaphosphate and a conductive nickel foam platform, a combination of materials the team said is more efficient and less expensive than existing solutions.

It also shows impressive durability in tests, operating for more than 20 hours and 10,000 cycles without a glitch .

Using the new method can be produced without creating waste carbon. That is something that the existing production methods, like steam methane reforming and coal gasification, cannot avoid.

Until now, reactions have often relied on electrocatalysts that use iridium, platinum, or ruthenium - 'noble' metals that are difficult and expensive to source.

Experts say reactions have become a bottleneck to the whole process.

Nickel, in contrast, is more abundant, easier and cheaper to get. The metal forms the basis ofanother water-splitting methoddiscovered last year, so scientists now have several avenues to explore for improving production.

The actual splitting itself is usually powered by an electric current or solar power, but because water only captures a small portion of the light spectrum, it is more productive to convert sunshine into energy first, then use the electricity to release

If scientists can crack the formula, could eventually power everything from homes to cars. And it is a far better option for the environment than CO2 - gushing fossil fuels - fuel produces water as a by-product of combustion, which is both sustainable and non-polluting.

And the good news is, should the water electrolysis route not work out, researchers are also exploring ways to get from biomass.

The less heat and the less energy we use in preparing the in the first place, the better it is for our planet - and once we have it ready, it is far cleaner and greener than fossil fuels.

"We believe our finding is a giant step towards practical and economic production of by water splitting, which will significantly contribute to the effort to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels,"the Houston researchers said.

First Published: Thu, May 18 2017. 11:42 IST
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