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Small steps toward big energy gains

New studies with different fuel cell catalysts show promising results

4:59pm, July 31, 2008

As the automotive industry is betting that hydrogen can become the fuel of the future, technology is taking steps to bring that hope closer to reality. Three papers being published by the journal Science promise to fill some of the most significant gaps in what could someday be an environmentally friendly cycle of hydrogen production and consumption.

In a paper published online July 31 in Science and in an upcoming issue of the journal, Matthew Kanan and Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report the discovery of a chemistry trick that could make it vastly more efficient than it is now to extract hydrogen from water. Nocera says that the method should make it feasible to store large amounts of energy obtained from renewable sources that are not available 24/7, such as solar or wind. The hydrogen could also be used as a clean fuel for cars, whose exhaust would be just water vapor.

Kanan and Nocera improve

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