Hydrogen fuel tech gets boost from low-cost, efficient catalyst
Scientists have engineered a cheap, abundant alternative to the expensive platinum catalyst and coupled it with a light-absorbing electrode to make hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water.
The discovery is an important development in the worldwide effort to mimic the way plants make fuel from sunlight, a key step in creating a green energy economy. It was reported last week in Nature Materials by theorist Jens Norskov of the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University and a team of colleagues led by Ib Chorkendorff and Soren Dahl at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
Hydrogen is an energy dense and clean fuel, which upon combustion releases only water. Today, most hydrogen is produced from natural gas which results in large CO2-emissions. An alternative, clean method is to make hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. The process is called photo-electrochemical, or PEC, water splitting. When sun hits the PEC cell, the solar energy is absorbed and used for splitting water molecules into its components, hydrogen and oxygen.