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New, more efficient catalyst for water splitting

• University of Houston

Physicists have discovered a catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen, composed of easily available, low-cost materials and operating far more efficiently than previous catalysts. That would solve one of the primary hurdles remaining in using water to produce hydrogen, one of the most promising sources of clean energy.

That would solve one of the primary hurdles remaining in using water to produce hydrogen, one of the most promising sources of clean energy.

"Hydrogen is the cleanest primary energy source we have on earth," said Paul C. W. Chu, TLL Temple Chair of Science and founding director and chief scientist of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. "Water could be the most abundant source of hydrogen if one could separate the hydrogen from its strong bond with oxygen in the water by using a catalyst."

Chu and colleagues including physicists Zhifeng Ren and Shuo Chen, both of whom also are principal investigators with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, report their discovery -- an efficient catalyst produced without the expensive precious metals most commonly used -- this week in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

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