Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers split water into hydrogen, oxygen using light, nanoparticles

Date:
December 15, 2013
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
Researchers have found a catalyst that can quickly generate hydrogen from water using sunlight, potentially creating a clean and renewable source of energy. Their research involved the use of cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Water (stock image). Researchers have used cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Credit: gertrudda / Fotolia

Researchers from the University of Houston have found a catalyst that can quickly generate hydrogen from water using sunlight, potentially creating a clean and renewable source of energy.

Related Articles


Their research, published online Sunday in Nature Nanotechnology, involved the use of cobalt oxide nanoparticles to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Jiming Bao, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UH, said the research discovered a new photocatalyst and demonstrated the potential of nanotechnology in engineering a material's property, although more work remains to be done.

Bao said photocatalytic water-splitting experiments have been tried since the 1970s, but this was the first to use cobalt oxide and the first to use neutral water under visible light at a high energy conversion efficiency without co-catalysts or sacrificial chemicals. The project involved researchers from UH, along with those from Sam Houston State University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Texas State University, Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC, and Sichuan University.

Researchers prepared the nanoparticles in two ways, using femtosecond laser ablation and through mechanical ball milling. Despite some differences, Bao said both worked equally well.

Different sources of light were used, ranging from a laser to white light simulating the solar spectrum. He said he would expect the reaction to work equally well using natural sunlight.

Once the nanoparticles are added and light applied, the water separates into hydrogen and oxygen almost immediately, producing twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, as expected from the 2:1 hydrogen to oxygen ratio in H2O water molecules, Bao said.

The experiment has potential as a source of renewable fuel, but at a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency rate of around 5 percent, the conversion rate is still too low to be commercially viable. Bao suggested a more feasible efficiency rate would be about 10 percent, meaning that 10 percent of the incident solar energy will be converted to hydrogen chemical energy by the process.

Other issues remain to be resolved, as well, including reducing costs and extending the lifespan of cobalt oxide nanoparticles, which the researchers found became deactivated after about an hour of reaction.

"It degrades too quickly," said Bao, who also has appointments in materials engineering and the Department of Chemistry.

The work, supported by the Welch Foundation, will lead to future research, he said, including the question of why cobalt oxide nanoparticles have such a short lifespan, and questions involving chemical and electronic properties of the material.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Longb Liao, Qiuhui Zhang, Zhihua Su, Zhongzheng Zhao, Yanan Wang, Yang Li, Xiaoxiang Lu, Dongguang Wei, Guoying Feng, Qingkai Yu, Xiaojun Cai, Jimin Zhao, Zhifeng Ren, Hui Fang, Francisco Robles-Hernandez, Steven Baldelli, Jiming Bao. Efficient solar water-splitting using a nanocrystalline CoO photocatalyst. Nature Nanotechnology, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.272

Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Researchers split water into hydrogen, oxygen using light, nanoparticles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131215160904.htm>.
University of Houston. (2013, December 15). Researchers split water into hydrogen, oxygen using light, nanoparticles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131215160904.htm
University of Houston. "Researchers split water into hydrogen, oxygen using light, nanoparticles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131215160904.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins