Splitting water into its constituent elements – hydrogen and oxygen – is actually pretty simple. All you have to do is pass an electric current through it and the molecules will break up ... slowly. Doing it efficiently requires the addition of a catalyst. Unfortunately, as in so many chemical reactions, the best catalyst is platinum – which happens to be extremely expensive (currently about $2,000 an ounce).
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have devised a new metal compound dubbed molybdenum-oxo (PY5Mo2) that can stimulate electrolysis of water at a tiny fraction of the cost of platinum. It also works well with sea water and dirty water, both of which can cause issues for the precious metal.

Work is ongoing and it will likely be sometime before it can be commercialized. However, this line of research is very promising and the chemists are also investigating other compounds that may be even more efficient at cracking water molecules.


[Source: Popular Science]

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