Professor Anthony O & # 39; Mullane said the potential for storing hydrogen-renewable energy chemicals is being investigated worldwide.
"The Australian government is interested in developing the hydrogen export industry to export our abundant renewable energy," said Professor O & Mull; Mullane from the QUT Faculty of Science and Engineering.
"In principle, hydrogen offers a way to save clean energy on the scale needed to make the launch of large-scale solar and wind fields and the export of decent green energy.
"However, the current method of using carbon sources to produce hydrogen emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that reduces the benefits of using renewable energy from the sun and wind.
"Electrochemical water separation driven by electricity from renewable energy technologies has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods for producing high purity hydrogen."
Professor O & # 39; Mullane said the new composite material that he and the PhD Sultana students had developed enabled the separation of electrochemical water into hydrogen and oxygen using cheap and easily available elements as catalysts.
"Traditionally, the catalyst for separating water involved expensive precious metals such as iridium oxide, ruthenium oxide and platinum," he said.
"An additional problem is stability, especially for the oxygen evolution part of the process.
"What we found is that we can use two inexpensive alternatives that are abundant on earth – cobalt and nickel oxide with only a small portion of gold nanoparticles – to create a stable bi-functional catalyst to separate water and produce hydrogen without emissions.
"From an industrial perspective, it makes perfect sense to use one catalyst rather than two different catalysts to produce hydrogen from water."
Professor O & # 39; Mullane said stored hydrogen can then be used in fuel cells.
"Fuel cells are mature technology, which has been launched in many vehicles. They use hydrogen and oxygen as fuel to produce electricity – basically the opposite of water separation.
"With lots of hydrogen & # 39; we can feed the electricity produced by fuel cells back into the network when needed during peak demand or the power of our transportation system and the only thing that is emitted is water."
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