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Posted: Jul 15, 2013
Researchers develop new method of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen
(Nanowerk News) Researchers at CRANN, Ireland’s leading Science Foundation Ireland funded nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), have developed a new method of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The discovery will have significant impact in the worldwide race to cheaply and efficiently produce hydrogen gas, hailed as the clean energy source of the future.
Professor Mike Lyons, a Principal Investigator at CRANN and TCD’s School of Chemistry and his team have developed new inexpensive materials based on iron and nickel oxide to split water into its components hydrogen and oxygen (water electrolysis). These materials are much cheaper, more readily available and more efficient than those used in current electrolysis methods.
Hydrogen gas has been identified as the alternative energy source of the future. However, its production using steam reforming of natural gas is still relatively difficult and unsustainable. In contrast, hydrogen generation by water electrolysis provides a reliable, environmentally friendly method of large-scale production. CRANN’s methods are the first inexpensive and efficient methods of water electrolysis to be identified worldwide.
Professor John Boland Director of CRANN said, “Nanoscience is vastly improving a number of industries from medicine, to technology to energy production. Whether it is in lightweight coatings for wind turbines, or new sensors for solar panels, our methods continue to assist in the move to sustainable, alternative and clean energy supply. Professor Lyons’ method of splitting water is a world first. It truly has the potential to revolutionise the production of hydrogen gas and bring it one step closer as a realistic energy alternative.”
Professor Mark Ferguson Director General of Science Foundation Ireland said “I congratulate Professor Lyons and his team on this research advance and for the international recognition it has achieved. This is a good example of SFI’s goal of funding internationally competitive, excellent science with potential economic, environmental and societal impact.”
Commenting, Professor Lyons said, “With my team of researchers, we are consistently striving to use well-known research methods to deliver unprecedented results. This method of water electrolysis takes the simplest of materials – nickel and iron – and uses them to ground-breaking effect. Hydrogen is the next clean energy source and CRANN is leading the international race to find its best method of production.”
Professor Mike Lyons has received funding from Science Foundation Ireland of almost €800,000 for this work. He leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group. He has published two books and more than 110 papers, and has a h-index of 25, which demonstrates the worldwide impact of his research.