A team of researchers from Stanford University unveiled an easier and more efficient way to strip hydrogen atoms from water molecules on Thursday. It's still the same electrolysis method that's been in use for years. But instead of using two different kinds of material for the cathode and anode, like conventional electrolysis procedures, Stanford is incorporating a pair of identical nickel-iron oxide catalysts. When a 1.5V current is applied, the system operates at 82 percent efficiency -- many times more than what its conventional equivalent can make with the same charge. It could be precisely the production breakthrough that the hydrogen fuel economy needs to actually take off.
This is thanks, in part, to the team's lithium-induced electrochemical tuning of the two leads, which dramatically increases their surface areas by doping the catalysts with lithium ions. What's more, the new system is so inexpensive to run that it could, in theory at least, operate 24/7. Of course, the system is still very much in early development but the Stanford team hopes further develop the technology to eventually produce hydrogen on an industrial scale.