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Posted Fri May 7 2010: from Popular Science:
Cheap New Metal Catalyst Can Split Hydrogen Gas From Water at a Fraction of the Cost
But researchers at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made a substantial leap toward a hydrogen-based future by devising a cheap, metal catalyst that can split hydrogen gas from water. The ability to pull apart H2O molecules into their constituent atoms is, of course, the key to creating a hydrogen-based energy economy. If we can do so in a cheap and energy efficient manner, we could potentially turn Earth's vast supply of water into our own vast supply of cheap, clean power.... What it can't be is cheap; electrolysis requires a catalyst to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas, the most common of which is platinum, which retails at some $2,000 per ounce.... The catalyst requires no additional organic additives or solvents, can operate in neutral water (even if it's dirty) and works with sea water -- meaning we could literally be looking at oceans of cheap energy. Best of all: Mo-oxo is about 70 times cheaper than platinum.... Don't expect to see Mo-oxo splitting seawater into large volumes of hydrogen gas right away. The research is still preliminary and the Berkeley team is just getting into some of the more exciting chemistry. They're looking for additional similar metals that might generate hydrogen gas at even higher efficiency, so by the time this kind of tech is commercialized we may have found an even better catalyst.
[Read more stories about: efficiency increase, alternative energy]

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