RESEARCH
September 8, 2008

Plant-inspired molecule boosts water splitting

Copy part of an enzyme that plants use in photosynthesis and wrap it in a plastic used in fuel cells, and you have a catalyst that extracts oxygen from water. The catalyst is a step toward an economically viable way of generating hydrogen from water using sunlight.

The catalyst is a cube-shaped molecule with a core of manganese and oxygen atoms.

There are two steps remaining to get the system ready for prime time. A second catalyst is needed to extract hydrogen gas from the left over hydrogen ions. And the catalysts must be integrated with a solar cell to power the process directly from sunlight.

Research paper:
Sustained Water Oxidation Photocatalysis by a Bioinspired Manganese Cluster
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, September 8, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Leone Spiccia
G. Charles Dismukes

Related stories and briefs:
Cheap catalyst boosts solar hydrogen prospects -- another water-splitting catalyst
Extracting hydrogen and storing it too -- another water-splitting catalyst


Back to ERN September 8/15, 2008

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