New Catalyst Turns Seawater in Hydrogen for Fuel Cells

Sea Water Fuel Cell

A team of researchers at Australia’s University of Wollongong have found a way to separate the “H” from sea water’s H2O, producing a virtually unlimited source of the hydrogen necessary to power the hydrogen fuel cells that many people believe will, ultimately, replace petroleum gasoline.

These scientists, led by Associate Professor Jun Chen and Professor Gerry Swiegers, have produced an artificial chlorophyll on a conductive plastic film that acts as a catalyst to begin splitting water. They claim that their catalyst is so efficient, in fact, that they can produce enough hydrogen to power an average-sized home and an electric car from a mere 5 liters of sea water.

If that’s even halfway true, it could spark a revolutionary shift in the way the general public views alternative fuels and hilariously upset the oil economies of Canada and the Middle East.

The system we designed, including the materials, gives us the opportunity to design various devices and applications using sea water as a water-splitting source. The flexible nature of the material also provides the possibility to build portable hydrogen-producing devices.

Of course, conventional sea-water catalysts have a byproduct that is, arguably, even worse than the harmful particulate emissions from petroleum products: chlorine!

These Australians, though, are claiming that their system, which uses an artificial chlorophyll on a conductive plastic film, has that problem neatly handled.

Sounds good to me. Let’s hope this hydrogen-farming technology is as much of a breakthrough as it sounds!

 

Source | Photos: Inhabitat.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.