Irked with the repeated hikes in petrol and diesel prices? You don’t have to worry, as you may soon be able to drive a hydrogen car which would be as cheap, safe and ‘green’ as water.
Working together for the last four years, research students from the University of Mumbai and the University of Trento, Italy, have successfully completed their trial on a low-cost and safe method of producing hydrogen gas, which may revolutionise hydrogen fuel-cell car technology.
The students have come out with a catalyst, cobalt boride, which efficiently releases hydrogen from ammonia borane (NH3BH3) by hydrolysis. Wonderful results have been obtained by using the nano form of cobalt boride. The new catalyst can replace noble and costly metals which are presently used in hydrogen cars.
Hydrogen is already being used as an alternative fuel because it is a ‘green’ option. Hydrogen cars fitted with hydrogen cylinders and fuel cells (which convert hydrogen into electricity) are already running on the roads of several countries such as Japan and South Korea.
Lead researcher Nainesh Patel from the physics department of the University of Mumbai says, “In the present day hydrogen-powered cars, either platinum, palladium or ruthenium are used as catalysts to enhance hydrogen production from its compounds. All these are noble metals, and very costly. Cobalt boride gives superior results and is cheap and readily available.”
Instead of using the catalyst in powder form, the researchers have synthesised ‘cobalt nanoparticles-embedded boron matrix catalyst film’ for better results.
Though hydrogen can be obtained by breaking water molecules, it requires huge additional energy produced by conventional methods which turns out be costly. “We have used ammonia borane as it can store more hydrogen and also release pure hydrogen by simple hydrolysis in the presence of a catalyst at room temperature,” says Prof DC Kothari, head of the university’s physics department.