A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley devised a high-valence metal they're calling Mo-oxo for molybdenum-oxo (PY5Me2). The catalyst requires no additional organic additives or solvents, can operate in neutral water (even if it's dirty) and works with sea water -- meaning we could literally be looking at oceans of cheap energy. Best of all: Mo-oxo is about 70 times cheaper than platinum. The research is still preliminary and the Berkeley team is just getting into some of the more exciting chemistry. They're looking for additional similar metals that might generate hydrogen gas at even higher efficiency, so by the time this kind of tech is commercialized we may have found an even better catalyst. Hydrogen would command a key role in future renewable energy technologies, experts agree, if a relatively cheap, efficient and carbon-neutral means of producing it can be developed.
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