Professor Anthony O'Mullane said that the chemical storage potential of renewable energy in the form of hydrogen is being explored worldwide.
"The Australian government is keen to develop an industry to export hydrogen to export our abundant renewable energy," said professor O'Bullan Mulane of the University of Cuba's School of Science and Engineering.
"In principle, hydrogen offers a way of storing clean energy on a scale that is needed to make the movement of large solar and windmills, as well as the export of green energy viable.
"However, current methods that use carbon sources for hydrogen production emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse effect that mitigates the benefits of using renewable energy from the sun and the wind.
"Electrochemical separation of water, driven by electricity produced by renewable energy technology, has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods for producing high purity hydrogen".
Professor O'Brien Mulane said that the new composite material he and PhD Uthul Sultana developed an electrochemical separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen, using cheap and easily accessible elements like catalysts.
"Traditionally, water separation catalysts include expensive precious metals such as iridium oxide, ruthenium oxide and platinum," he said.
"An additional problem is stability, especially for part of the process of oxygen evolution.
"What we have discovered is that we can use two of the cheapest alternatives to earth – cobalt and nickel oxide with only a fraction of the gold nanoparticles – to create a stable bifunctional catalyst to divide the water and produce hydrogen-free emissions.
"From an industry perspective, it's a lot of sense to use one catalyst material instead of two different catalysts for producing hydrogen from water."
Professor O'Mullane said that stored hydrogen can then be used in fuel cells.
"Heat cells are a mature technology that is already rolled into many vehicles. They use hydrogen and oxygen as fuels for producing electricity – essentially the opposite of splitting water.
"With a much cheaper" made "hydrogen we can supply the electric fuel generated by the fuel cells back into the net when needed during the top demand or power of our transport system and the only thing that is missing is water."
"Golden doping in a stratified co-nitroxide system by galvanic substitution for overall electrochemistry" was published in Advanced functional materials.
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