Generating Hydrogen from Water
Friday, April 30 2010
“Our new proton reduction catalyst is based on a molybdenum-oxo metal complex that is about 70 times cheaper than platinum, today’s most widely used metal catalyst for splitting the water molecule,” said Hemamala Karunadasa, one of the co-discoverers of this complex. “In addition, our catalyst does not require organic additives, and can operate in neutral water, even if it is dirty, and can operate in sea water, the most abundant source of hydrogen on earth and a natural electrolyte.”
Karunadasa and teammates Christopher Chang and Jeffrey Long all hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Chemistry Department.
Hydrogen gas, whether combusted or used in fuel cells to generate electricity, emits only water vapor as an exhaust product. However, hydrogen gas does not occur naturally and has to be produced. Most of the hydrogen gas in the United States today comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel. While inexpensive, this technique adds huge volumes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere.