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).
BP has pledged to put $500 million into a new research program that will investigate how bioscience can boost energy production and reduce energy's environmental impacts. A number of institutions have been selected to join with BP in the new Energy Biosciences Institute including the University of California Berkeley and its partners the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
On Tuesday, while speaking to the Council on Competitiveness and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Energy Department Secretary Samuel Bodman announced that $100 million has been awarded to 25 fuel cell research and development projects. Bodman said, "We expect hydrogen to play an integral role in our energy portfolio and we are eager to see hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road in the near future."