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Wisconsin Researchers Working With New Materials To Aid Hydrogen Fuel Production

UW Team Has Found A Cheaper Alternative To Costly Platinum

David Tenenbaum/University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wisconsin scientists are reporting a cheaper way to create hydrogen to be used in fuel.

Backers of a so-called “hydrogen economy” that reduces the use of carbon-based fuels have had several hurdles to overcome. One is that platinum, the metal best suited for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, is expensive.

But a University of Wisconsin-Madison team that includes chemistry professor Song Jin is reporting that it’s used a much cheaper compound of phosphorus, sulfur and cobalt to make the hydrogen. Jin says the compound works well.

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“Unfortunately still not as good as platinum,” he said. “I honestly do not know if we’ll ever beat platinum, but it actually comes very close in terms of catalytic efficiency.”

Jin said the cost savings would especially pay off for large-scale producers. He said the phosphorus, sulfur and cobalt compoud would be stable and not used in large enough amounts to pollute the environment.

The hydrogen research was published in the online edition of Nature Materials.

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