The major problem with hydrolysis is its lack of efficiency due to the fact that power is needed to produce the electrical current that breaks the hydrogen and oxygen out of the water. In addition, the electrodes used in the process tend to be made from very expensive and precious metals like platinum.
The goal is for the new catalyst material to work in a closed-loop system that can make hydrogen with power gathered from solar energy or other electrical sources. The closed-loop concept would have hydrogen and water running though a fuel cell and the water would be recaptured and reused.
Within ten years the researchers hope that the technology will be able to yield a cost-effective system that combines clean energy generation with storage. The new catalyst material can operate in plain water at normal atmospheric pressure.
John Turner from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) says “The initial results look promising but it doesn’t answer all the things you need in a catalyst.” – More research is still needed to bring hydrogen to the consumer market as a cost effective way of producing power.