Inexpensive catalyst for producing hydrogen under real-world conditions foundSubmitted by Bob-45 on Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:37
By Jason Falconer
January 11, 2013
Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel of the future, but producing it cleanly using platinum as a catalyst is simply too costly to service the world's energy needs. On the flipside, producing hydrogen with fossil fuels not only releases CO2 as a byproduct, but is unsustainable, negating hydrogen's green potential. However, hydrogen may yet make good on its promise thanks to a group of scientists at the University of Cambridge.
They found that cobalt can function as an efficient catalyst at room temperature in pH neutral water surrounded by oxygen. Compared to platinum, cobalt is relatively abundant and therefore inexpensive – a recipe that could make all the difference if we're going to complete a transition to alternative energy sources over the next 50 years.
"Until now, no inexpensive molecular catalyst was known to evolve H2 efficiently in water and under aerobic conditions," explains Dr. Erwin Reisner, head of the Christian Doppler Laboratory at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. "However, such conditions are essential for use in developing green hydrogen as a future energy source under industrially relevant conditions."