Two new discoveries could be breakthroughs that make hydrogen fuel cheaper and H2 fuel cells cheaper as well. Scientists as the U. S. DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have discovered that disordered titanium at a nano-scale can be used as a robust photocatalyst for creating hydrogen from water using sunlight.
According to LBNL, the scientists and researchers “… surmised disorder boosted the photocatalyst’s performance. To find out if their hunch was correct, they immersed disorder-engineered nanocrystals in water and exposed them to simulated sunlight. They found that 24 percent of the sunlight absorbed by the photocatalyst was converted into hydrogen when using a sacrificial reagent, a production rate that is about 100 times greater than the yields of most semiconductor photocatalysts under the same conditions.”
The scientists also found out that unlike other photocatalysts that only absorb a small spectrum of light such as ultraviolet, that their new disordered titanium catalyst absorbs the ultraviolet, visible and infared light of the spectrum accounting for a higher yield of hydrogen.
Meanwhile, researchers at Florida State University have discovered a material that they believe is a viable alternative and will reduce the need for platinum in fuel cells. The material they are calling “buckypaper” is made from carbon and, “…will create a new generation of hydrogen fuel cells that are less expensive, smaller, lighter and more durable.”
The new generation hydrogen fuel cell breakthrough has an increased durability of 25-percent and improved performance of 40-percent making it suitable for both stationary and transportation markets.
As more breakthroughs occur in creating cheaper and more robust hydrogen and fuel cell production only one thing can naturally occur: the acceleration of hydrogen cars to the marketplace. Add to the fact that this is Groundhog Day, I believe that Punxsutawney Phil also predicted this year that hydrogen cars are just around the corner.