Rutgers University researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to make clean-burning hydrogen fuel – a fuel that could replace expensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuels.
The new technology is a novel catalyst that performs almost as well as cost-prohibitive platinum for so-called electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than less-expensive catalysts investigated to-date.
“Hydrogen has long been expected to play a vital role in our future energy landscapes by mitigating, if not completely eliminating, our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Tewodros (Teddy) Asefa, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. “We have developed a sustainable chemical catalyst that, we hope with the right industry partner, can bring this vision to life”. He and his colleagues based their new catalyst on carbon nanotubes – one-atom-thick sheets of carbon rolled into tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.
A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water
Finding ways to make electrolysis reactions commercially viable is important because processes that make hydrogen today start with methane – itself a fossil fuel. The need to consume fossil fuel therefore negates current claims that hydrogen is a “green” fuel.