I’ve talked many times about researchers using cobalt in either fuel cells to produce electricity or to produce hydrogen from water. In August 2008 I had talked about how researchers at MIT had turned to cobalt and phosphate to produce cheap and abundant hydrogen.
Now researchers at University of Cambridge in the UK have made a breakthrough using cobalt to produce cheap hydrogen under industrial conditions.
According to the Research News, “Scientists at the University of Cambridge have produced hydrogen, H2, a renewable energy source, from water using an inexpensive catalyst under industrially relevant conditions (using pH neutral water, surrounded by atmospheric oxygen, O2, and at room temperature) …
“…Cambridge researchers found that a simple catalyst containing cobalt, a relatively inexpensive and abundant metal, operates as an active catalyst in pH neutral water and under atmospheric O2.”
The same scientists are working on a sunlight driven water splitting device to produce hydrogen (and oxygen) cheaply and effectively.
The same article does make one misstatement though, “Although H2 cannot be used as a ‘direct’ substitute for gasoline or ethanol, it can be used as a fuel in combination with fuel cells, which are already available in cars and buses.”
As we already know, hydrogen can be used inside of internal combustion engines as BMW, Ford and several other manufacturers have already proven. Even with this mistake, the research does sound promising and with a little luck, a breakthrough may be just around the corner.