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Hydrogen Catalyst

June 9, 2010

A new molecular catalyst may make clean hydrogen power economically viable.


Getting fuel from water. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Imagine getting a powerful, clean fuel from seawater. That’s a step closer to reality, say researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. They’ve improved a technique for extracting clean-burning hydrogen gas from water. Postdoctoral researcher Hemamala Karunadasa says that today’s techniques aren’t practical, because they use precious metals like platinum as catalysts.

HEMAMALA KARUNADASA (University of California, Berkeley):
There are two main problems with this: one is that these metals are extremely expensive, and also, metals like platinum get deactivated very easily.

But her team discovered a metal catalyst that’s 70 times cheaper than platinum, and actually works better. And unlike platinum, it works even in dirty seawater – which is one resource that the Earth has no shortage of. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.