May 16, 2017 03:30 PM EDT
A group of researchers from the University of Houston has recently discovered a cheap catalyst that can easily split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This composed is easily available and far more efficient than previous Catalysts.
Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source on Earth. Now Paul C. W. Chu chief scientist of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH said, Water is the most abundant element on Earth. Only if someone could separate the hydrogen bond from its strong bond with oxygen in the water by using Catalyst.
Postdoctoral researchers Haiqing Zhou and Fang Yu and graduate students Jingying Sun and Ran He involved with this project. They said this Catalyst was made by very common used metal instead of using precious expensive metal in the chemical lab, Phys.Org reported.
In addition, the Catalyst composed of ferrous metaphosphate grown on a conductive nickel foam platform, which is less expensive and more efficient than the previous catalyst. Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson professor of physics said, "It is much lower Cost Wise and much better performance wise". This Catalyst is long durable, it is operating more than 20 hours and 10,000 cycles in testing.
However, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is not a simple process. This process has two separate reactions, one is hydrogen evolution and another one is oxygen evolution. Each evolution needs a separate electrode. Though, it is impossible to produce hydrogen without producing oxygen. Scientist Ren said, hydrogen Catalyst is available and efficient oxygen Catalyst has created a bottleneck in the field.
The researchers wrote in a paper, hydrogen produced from water splitting by an electrochemical process, called water electrolysis, Energy.GOV reported. It can be easily stored. Furthermore, hydrogen is produced through steam methane reforming and coal gasification. On the other hand oxygen reactions often depend upon an electrocatalyst using a "noble metal" like iridium, platinum or ruthenium. But those metals are very expensive.
Now let's come to the conclusion, this water splitting process can be triggered either through electric current or through photo Catalysis. But solar-powered water splitting is too impractical and it can absorb just a small portion of the light spectrum. Finally, scientist Ren said, solar power would be used to generate electric to power to split the water.
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