Hydrogen fuel production takes a major step forwardJanuary 28, 2013
Researchers find new method of hydrogen fuel production
As hydrogen fuel continues to gain more attention as a viable energy source, the efficient production of hydrogen fuel is becoming a pressing issue. The cost of fuel cells is not the only problem that hydrogen faces in terms of its use as a clean energy. Hydrogen fuel production has long been an issue that has kept the use of this energy at bay. Researchers from the University of Buffalo, however, may have found a method that could unlock efficient hydrogen fuel production.
10-nanometer silicon particle used to generate hydrogen gas
In a series of experiments, researchers from the University of Buffalo made use of spherical silicon particles that measured only 10 nanometers in diameter. Nanoparticles like these have become very popular in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell research. Some nanoparticles are believed to be adequate alternatives to the platinum catalysts that are used in most conventional fuel cell systems, thereby driving down their cost while also increasing their efficiency.
Particles react to water
The remarkable thing about these silicon particles is that they have a very powerful reaction when they are introduced to water. Researchers found that introducing the particles to water sparked the formation of hydrogen. The reaction did not require any light, heat, or even an electric current and was able to produce hydrogen fuel 150 times faster than other methods that also make use of silicon. Researchers suggest that this may be a new, highly efficient method of hydrogen fuel production that could have a major impact on the world of energy.
Smaller particles are costly to produce
Researchers have been astounded by the performance of the silicon nanoparticles so far. Studies show that the 10-nanometer particles are able to produce significantly more hydrogen than 100-nanometer particles. The problem, however, is that it takes more resources and energy to create such small nanoparticles. Researchers are currently working to improve the efficiency of their nanoparticle production so that it does not offset the potential benefits that could be had through its use.