From Washington, D.C., at a meeting of the American Chemical Society
Hydrogen production remains a major stumbling block on the road to the hydrogen economy, a much-touted successor to the current oil-based economy. Today, hydrogen supplies are derived largely from fossil fuels, such as oil, via processes that produce carbon dioxide. Yet it's this global-warming gas that a switch to hydrogen is supposed to curtail. Hydrogen can be split from the oxygen in water using electricity, but that process requires a great deal of energy.
Mahdi Abu-Omar of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., says that he and his team weren't looking to produce hydrogen in their fundamental studies of a catalyst made of the metal rhenium. In one set of experiments with a solution of water and an organic liquid called organosilane, however, hydrogen started to bubble up from the fluid soon after the researchers added a small piece of rhenium to the mixture. The solution was at room