Hydrogen fuel production gets a boost with gold nanoparticles

Hydrogen fuel production gets a boost with gold nanoparticles

November 22, 2012 0 By Tami Hood

Gold_nanoparticles used to improve hydrogen fuel cell

Researchers use gold nanoparticles for hydrogen fuel production

As fuel cells become more popular around the world and in numerous industries, the need to find betters, more efficient ways to produce hydrogen fuel is growing. Hydrogen fuel production has been a popular subject in the world of science, especially among those that are interested in clean energy. One of the methods that has been gaining momentum recently is using solar energy as a means of hydrogen fuel production. A team of researchers from the Stony Brook University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory, lead by Alexander Orlov, PhD, have been experimenting with this concept and have made a significant breakthrough.

Particles produce hydrogen while in water and exposed to sunlight

Researchers have found that using gold nanoparticles could be an effective method of hydrogen fuel production. In tests conducted by the research team, these nanoparticles were able to spark the production of hydrogen gas in water when exposed to sunlight. The particles were able to split hydrogen molecules from water through the process of electrolysis. Researchers have found that the particles actually perform better as they get smaller.

Gold may be an effective replacement for platinum

Orlov notes that there is a large amount of work that has yet to be done before the research team can understand the precise potential of gold nanoparticles in terms of hydrogen fuel production. Researchers note, however, that these nanoparticles could be viable replacements for traditional platinum catalysts that are widely used throughout the fuel cell industry. Platinum catalysts are  contribute greatly to the high cost of hydrogen fuel cells, an aspect that has made the energy systems unpopular within several industries. Replacing platinum could be the key to affordable fuel cells.

Researchers to continue examining capabilities of gold nanoparticles

Platinum is used as a catalyst because of its powerful catalytic properties and resistance to chemical corrosion. Gold nanoparticles could be an ideal replacement because of  their promising hydrogen fuel production capabilities. Researchers will continue to work on discovering the exact capabilities of these particles and how they can be activated through solar energy well into the future.