Filling up one’s fuel tank at the pump – with water – is moving closer to reality. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently found a new way of splitting water from hydrogen that could be economically viable and much more sustainable than methods commonly used today.
Scientists have long known how to use electricity to separate oxygen from hydrogen, a combustible element that can power machines without emitting greenhouse gases. But the cost of electricity and carbon emissions from generating electricity has always been prohibitive in terms of costs and environmental damage.
As explained in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the Illinois scientists mixed the metals used in creating the electric current that splits H20 with perchloric acid, expanding the yield of hydrogen.
“This type of research will be quite impactful regarding hydrogen generation for sustainable energy in the future,” said study a co-author Hong Yang, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, in a press release.
The research is the latest in a wave of scientific and industrial advances in splitting water to yield hydrogen.
Hyundai and Toyota, for example, are collaborating with Australian scientists to developing hydrogen storage, a key challenge if they are to create a distribution network for hydrogen cars in the future.
“This is a watershed moment for energy,” said Larry Marshall, chief executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, in a press release.