Scientists at Stanford University have developed a cheap and efficient way to extract clean-burning hydrogen fuel from water 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The low-cost water splitter uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas and could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for the transportation sector and industry, explains a news release.
Calling the invention an “exciting world-record performance”, study co-author Yi Cui and his colleagues used lithium-ion battery technology to create one low-cost catalyst that is capable of driving the entire water-splitting reaction.
Hydrogen has long been promoted as an emissions-free alternative to gasoline, explains Stanford University. And yet most commercial-grade hydrogen is made from natural gas, contributing to global warming.
Unlike most conventional water-splitting devices which consist of electrodes typically made from platinum and iridium, two rare and costly metals, the Stanford University water-splitter only uses one catalyst made of inexpensive nickel and iron.
Not only is it cheap and easy to produce, it is even more stable that some commercial catalysts made of precious metals and can catalyze both the hydrogen and the oxygen reaction. “No other catalyst can do this with such great performance,” says Cui.