Irish breakthrough for hydrogen fuel

Irish scientists have discovered a new cheap way to make hydrogen which could revolutionise how we fuel the cars of the future.

Researchers at CRANN, the nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin, said the discovery could herald a new era in the adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy-efficient transportation.

Hydrogen is often described as an attractive alternative to fossil fuels as it is a pollution-free fuel and energy carrier which would satisfy much of the energy requirements of our society.

While hydrogen fuel has existed for many years, its widespread uptake has been hampered by the lack of a low-cost method which can accomplish the splitting of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

However, the CRANN team have developed a material which enhances the splitting of water at a very low energy cost using earth abundant raw materials.

Principal investigator at CRANN and the school of chemistry, Prof Mike Lyons, said hydrogen is a credible and clean alternative to petrol.

“Hydrogen can be generated at the forecourt, it can be pumped just like petrol and, between fills, you can perhaps go 400 to 500 miles. So it really is a credible alternative to petrol,” he told Newstalk.

Prof Lyons said this new method of extracting hydrogen from water was a “significant breakthrough” in the move towards clean energy.

“Our disruptive materials breakthrough is momentous, as it means much more energetically efficient and more economical hydrogen energy. This means that the cost of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis will be significantly reduced, which will result in a more rapid uptake of hydrogen as an automotive fuel,” he said.

The research has been published in the prestigious international journal ACS Catalysis, and Prof Lyons said it would not have been possible without the world-class facilities and opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration available within TCD’s school of chemistry, and CRANN.


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