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Brookhaven Researchers Open Door to Hydrogen Fuel Future

Team switches from platinum to two low cost alternatives: nickel and molybdenum.

Published: 14-May-2012

A team of researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, has opened the door to a future of clean, cheap hydrogen fuel by ditching a popular platinum catalyst in favor of one based on two low cost alternatives, nickel and molybdenum.

Until now, the manufacture of hydrogen gas has faced a huge and somewhat ironic obstacle: Though hydrogen gas is produced from a chemical reaction in plain water, one of the cheapest and most abundant substances imaginable, the most efficient catalyst for generating that reaction is platinum - which currently weighs in at a hefty $50,000 per kilogram price tag, and rising.

In contrast, nickel costs only $20 per kilogram. Molybdenum, a silvery gray metal, costs $32.

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