A Better Way to Get Hydrogen from Water

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428260/a-better-way-to-get-hydrogen-from-water/?nlid=nldly&nld=2012-06-19

An experimental approach to splitting water might lead to a relatively cheap and clean method for large-scale hydrogen production that doesn’t require fossil fuels. The process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using heat and catalysts made from inexpensive materials.

Heat-driven water splitting is an alternative to electrolysis, which is expensive and requires large amounts of electricity. The new approach, developed by Caltech chemical-engineering professor Mark Davis, avoids the key problems with previous heat-driven methods of water splitting. It works at relatively low temperatures and doesn’t produce any toxic or corrosive intermediate products.

Almost all the hydrogen used now in industrial processes, such as making gasoline, comes from reforming natural gas. If automakers start selling large numbers of hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles, as they’ve said they plan to do eventually, the hydrogen for those is also likely to come from natural gas unless processes like the one at Caltech are commercialized.

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