A metal catalyst for generating hydrogen has been discovered by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley.
"molecular molybdenum-oxo" is a metallic version of the hydrogenases, an enzyme use by plants during photosynthesis. Hydrogenases enzymes are highly unstable when extracted from its natural environment, so researchers pursued towards the discovery of the molecular molybdenum-oxo.
Researchers said, "Our catalyst does not require organic additives, and can operate in neutral water, even if it is dirty, and can operate in sea water, the most abundant source of hydrogen on earth and a natural electrolyte. These qualities make our catalyst ideal for renewable energy and sustainable chemistry."
"The basic scientific challenge has been to create earth-abundant molecular systems that produce hydrogen from water with high catalytic activity and stability,"
"Although metal catalysts are commercially available, it is very expensive thus limits its widespread use. Platinum for example, which is considered as the best, costs around $2,000 an ounce
Platinum is use as catalyst to crack hydrogen from water:
Sample image of metal catalyst. The lead of a pencil is one of them...
"Researchers from the University of Houston have found a catalyst that can quickly generate hydrogen from water using sunlight, potentially creating a clean and renewable source of energy.
Their research, published online Sunday in Nature Nanotechnology, involved the use of cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Jiming Bao, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UH, said the research discovered a new photocatalyst and demonstrated the potential of nanotechnology in engineering a material’s property, although more work remains to be done.
Bao said photocatalytic water-splitting experiments have been tried since the 1970s, but this was the first to use cobalt oxide and the first to use neutral water under visible light at a high energy conversion efficiency without co-catalysts or sacrificial chemicals. The project involved researchers from UH, along with those from Sam Houston State University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Texas State University, Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC, and Sichuan University." - Source: http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2013/december/1216baohydrogen.php
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