Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology researchers have cracked the chemical mechanism that will enable development of a new and more efficient photo-chemical process to produce hydrogen fuel from water. The team is the first to successfully reveal the fundamental chemical reaction present in solar power that could form the missing link to generate the electricity necessary to accomplish this process. It allows the process to unfold naturally instead of relying on large amounts of man-made energy sources or precious metals to catalyze the reaction.
Hydrogen production for fuel requires splitting water molecules (H2O) into two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The research reveals the mechanism that occurs during the photochemical splitting of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) over iron-oxide photo-electrodes, which involves splitting the photo-oxidation reaction from linear to two sites.
Production of hydrogen does not emit greenhouse gases, but the process has until now required more energy than is generated and as a result has limited commercial viability.