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New technique brings clean hydrogen fuel one step closer

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Aug 17 2018

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In the News

Article Written By Andrew Myers, Stanford Engineering

"In the quest for clean alternative energy sources, hydrogen is a favorite.

It releases a lot of energy when burned — with a bonus: The major byproduct of burning hydrogen is pure water.

The big obstacle has been getting pure hydrogen in sufficient quantity to burn. So scientists are studying hydrogen evolution reactions, or HERs, a type of water-splitting technology in which electrodes, covered with catalytic materials, are inserted into water and charged with electricity. The interaction of the electricity, the catalysts and the water produce hydrogen gas — a clean fuel — and clean, breathable oxygen.

Alas, there is a problem: At present, electrodes must be coated with precious, expensive metals, most notably platinum.

But Stanford graduate student Xinjian Shi may have found a solution: a synthesis method that turns cheap, abundant metal sulfides into powerful electrodes for hydrogen evolution reactions. He described the process in a recent study in Energy and Environmental Science."

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