A major breakthrough in creating massive amounts of cheap hydrogen via the electrolysis of water has been achieved by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A year and a half ago I had talked about how a photovoltaic revolution may spur a hydrogen revolution. The MIT scientists agree with this.
MIT Professor Daniel Nocera and postdoctoral fellow Matthew Kanan, have discovered two catalysts that will help split water efficiently and economically. For years, critics have argued that electrolysis of water to create hydrogen was too inefficient and expensive because of the energy demands.
Nocera and Kanan has put these arguments to rest as they explain that putting cobalt and phosphate on an electrode (both abundant and inexpensive materials) can split water easily at room temperature and under atmospheric pressure.
The MIT scientists envision a world where homeowners will have solar panels upon their rooftops. The extra energy created during the day will be stored as hydrogen and oxygen and then run through a fuel cell at night to provide energy to the home. Some of this hydrogen may also be used to refuel a car as well.
This discovery is just the beginning of much development to come. According to Nocera, “The scientific community is really going to run with this.”