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Science Briefing

Turning water to energy, cheaply

August 02, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

MIT researchers have developed an inexpensive technique to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a feat that would allow energy produced by sun-powered photovoltaic cells to be stored for future use.

Daniel Nocera and Matthew Kanan reported Friday in the journal Science that they had created an unusual catalyst for the reaction by dissolving cobalt and phosphate in water containing conductive glass electrodes. When a current was applied, the catalyst plated onto the surface of the electrodes, and hydrogen began forming at one and oxygen at the other. The two gases could then be combined in a fuel cell to produce electricity.

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