Novel catalyst can now help harvest fuel from water
Scientists have developed an inexpensive material that can help split water to produce hydrogen fuel. Most systems to split water into its components – hydrogen and oxygen – require two catalysts, one to spur a reaction to separate the hydrogen and a second to produce oxygen.
The new catalyst, made of iron and dinickel phosphides on commercially available nickel foam, performs both functions. Researchers from the University of Houston (UH) and the California Institute of Technology in the US said it has the potential to dramatically lower the amount of energy required to produce hydrogen from water while generating a high current density, a measure of hydrogen production.
Lower energy requirements means the hydrogen could be produced at a lower cost. “It puts us closer to commercialisation,” said Zhifeng Ren, professor at UH. Hydrogen is considered a desirable source of clean energy, in the form of fuel cells to power electric motors or burned in internal combustion engines, along with a number of industrial uses.
Since it can be compressed or converted to liquid, it is more easily stored than some other forms of energy, said Ren, lead author of study published in the journal Nature Communications. However, finding a practical, inexpensive and …read more