Researchers have determined that water splitting can produce clean energy hydrogen and use small metal particles exposed to sunlight to perform the splitting. Researchers at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory used gold particles less than one nanometer in size to increase hydrogen production, far exceeding the hydrogen production of other catalysts.
Less than one dozen metal nanoparticles have the ability to turn water into fuel. And, despite seeming counter-intuitive the smaller the particle, the greater the power.
Professor Orlov of Stony Brook University discovered when a reduction in metal particles is below one nanometer, the particles actually facilitate hydrogen production even more efficiently by employing solar light. By using this method, hydrogen evolution increased by a factor of 35 compared to other metals.
Scientists and researchers acknowledge that they have a long way to go to truly understand anomalies and intricacies in small particle electronic properties, but they are optimistic that further study may lead to results that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels. They are looking toward a future that may encompass a hydrogen-based energy economy. This new sustainable energy source would benefit the environment while increasing energy efficiency.
If researchers can find new sustainable materials such as water to facilitate hydrogen production, hydrogen might one day be the cleanest sustainable energy on the planet.
[via Science Daily]