Has science found a new and better way to produce hydrogen for fuel? Creating hydrogen from water is currently dependent on expensive materials such as platinum, but researchers in Europe have developed a new cobalt-based catalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Hydrogen: Clean Fuel
Hydrogen (H2) is a gaseous molecule, and is very important for its numerous industrial uses. Potentially, H2 can be used as a fuel; when in contact with oxygen (O2), it undergoes a combustion reaction, as shown below:
H2 + ½ O2 → H2O
As you can see, the reaction does not generate CO2, but just water, so H2 could be used as a green fuel, and would have a smaller impact on the environment than other fuels.
Hydrogen Production: Water Splitting
H2 in its molecular form does not exist in nature, but has to be produced from bigger H-containing molecules, such as water or gas. Although the cheapest way to produce H2 is from natural gas, the most abundant source of hydrogen is water.
Theoretically, H2 could be produced by splitting the water, with a reaction which is the reverse of the one shown here. This reaction, however, does not take place spontaneously; some energy has to be given to the system for the water to decompose into H2 and O2.
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