Friday, January 29, 2010

Cheap Hydrogen From Dirty Water...Maybe

A 2008 MIT chemist Daniel Nocera concocted a very simple, very cheap, robust, self-healing and non-toxic catalyst made from cobalt and phosphate that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Nocera's invention has attracted luminous scientists, venture capitalists, and now $4 million from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E funding program. Pure hydrogen, after all, is a wonderful thing to have -- as a fuel or as a feedstock for uncountable numbers of chemicals and fuels....

....Nocera's vision is of a solar-powered home with an energy storage device consisting of a bucket of water and his cheap water-splitting contraption. When the sun goes down, the hydrogen powers a fuel cell that runs your home. It's a nice idea, but for now Metcalfe says the company is simply focused on producing cheap hydrogen. Nocera's initial experiment worked, but it produced hydrogen at extraordinarily slow rates. Read more.

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