New Metal Catalyst Could Produce Cheaper Hydrogen Gas
One major key to a viable hydrogen-based energy economy is a cost-effective method of stripping hydrogen atoms from water molecules. Electrolysis is the required process, but it is expensive both in the amount of electrical energy needed and the cost of a good metal catalyst. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California think they have half the problem beat. They have discovered a metal catalyst that is efficient and far less expensive than platinum, the metal of choice for water electrolysis.
Called Mo-oxo or molybdenum-oxo (PY5Me2), the catalyst does not need a boost from additional solvents or additives and works in clean, dirty, or salt water.
When one thinks of the amount of water that fits that description, the potential amounts of hydrogen gas that could be produced using the Mo-oxo catalyst is enormous. Vast oceans and lakes – all rich in untapped hydrogen gas molecules that could be used to produce clean, sustainable energy.
Although the idea is exciting, the research is still in its infancy. The Mo-oxo research team is still investigating similar metals that might be even more efficient. However, Mo-oxo represents a hopeful first step in tapping Earth’s hydrogen riches.