Sian Crampsie

Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK and Yale University in the USA have developed a new material for generating hydrogen from water.

The invention has been described by the research teams as a "significant breakthrough" in hydrogen fuel research. It uses a newly designed molecular catalyst that is able to split water and produce hydrogen more efficiently than any other existing material.

The researchers say that the patented catalyst can be directly applied to various electrode surfaces in a straightforward and highly economical manner. It could be applied particularly effectively in the renewables sector, where hydrogen can be used to store excess energy.

"Hydrogen is a fantastically versatile and environmentally friendly fuel, however, hydrogen-powered applications are only as ‘green’ as the hydrogen on which they run," said Dr. Ulrich Hintermair, research fellow at the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT). "Currently, over 90 per cent is derived from fossil fuels. If we want to bring about a clean hydrogen economy we must first generate clean hydrogen.

"This new molecular catalyst will hopefully play a large role in helping create hydrogen from renewable energy sources such as solar power. We are also interested in applying this technology to other forms of renewable energy such as tidal, wind and wave power."

The research team are now in discussions with a number of energy companies about utilising this technology on a large scale and hope this finding marks the start of contributing to providing the world with more sustainable fuels.