Click here for a printer-friendly version of this page.

Discovery may revolutionize hydrogen production


Posted on: Tuesday April 26, 2011.


Hydrogen bubbles

Image copyright: Alain Herzog

Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost is too high. A team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a molybdenum based catalyst allows hydrogen production at room temperature, and is inexpensive and efficient. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filled.

Existing in large quantities on Earth, water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. It can be broken down by applying an electrical current; this is the process known as electrolysis. To improve this particularly slow reaction, platinum is generally used as a catalyst. However, platinum is a particularly expensive material that has tripled in price over the last decade. Now EPFL scientists have shown that amorphous molybdenum sulphides, found abundantly, are efficient catalysts and hydrogen production cost can be significantly lowered.

Industrial prospects

The new catalysts exhibit many advantageous technical characteristics. They are stable and compatible with acidic, neutral or basic conditions in water. Also, the rate of the hydrogen production is faster than other catalysts of the same price. The discovery opens up some interesting possibilities for industrial applications such as in the area of solar energy storage.

It’s only by chance that Daniel Merki, Stéphane Fierro, Heron Vrubel and Xile Hu made this discovery during an electrochemical experience. “It’s a perfect illustration of the famous serendipity principle in fundamental research”, as Xile Hu emphasizes: “Thanks to this unexpected result, we’ve revealed a unique phenomenon”, he explains. “But we don’t yet know exactly why the catalysts are so efficient.”

The next stage is to create a prototype that can help to improve sunlight-driven hydrogen production. But a better understanding of the observed phenomenon is also required in order to optimize the catalysts.





News Story Origin and Copyright: EPFL
Click here for the original news release.




Click here for a printer-friendly version of this page.

Cool products from our online store:
CHEM C2000 Chemistry SuperKit v2.0

CHEM C2000 Chemistry SuperKit v2.0

On SALE today:
$199.99 $129.00 /each

Cherry Wood Levitron

Cherry Wood Levitron

On SALE today:
$59.99 $45.00 /each

DC Voltmeter 0-10V

DC Voltmeter 0-10V

On SALE today:
$17.95 $11.95 /each

Newtons Cradle - Large - 7 inches

Newtons Cradle - Large - 7 inches

On SALE today:
$24.95 $17.00 /each



Search

Loading



Click here to get
a FREE ride with Uber!


Click here to
sign up for Birchbox






Science Quote

'Strange is our situation here upon the earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.'

Albert Einstein
(1879-1955)
Science Sidebar | Science Education Articles
10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Interested In Science

Young children are natural scientists: they ask questions, pick up sticks and bugs outside, and are curious about the world around them. But as they get a bit older, many kids gradually lose their interest in science. They might see it as just another task at school, something that doesn't apply to their lives. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, so here are ten ways you can remind your kids that science is everywhere. Most of these are fun for adults, too! Continue reading ...

Top Selling

Here are our physics & astronomy bestsellers:
Deluxe Water Rocket Set
Mini Plasma Ball
KonusScience 5 Way Microscope Kit
3D Magnetic Field Tube
Scorpion, Ant, Wasp and Flower Bug
Alnico Bar Magnet - 6 inch Long
Solar Radiometer
Weather Station 4M Kit
Periscope
Cherry Wood Levitron

Sponsors

USC University of Southern California Dornsife College Physics and Astronomy Department McMaster University Physics and Astronomy Department