KTH researchers have opened a route to large-scale hydrogen production by discovering a better way to split water without relying on precious metals.
If a cheap, stable and efficient way could be found to produce hydrogen from water, a hydrogen-fuel economy could finally become a reality.
Scientists at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm now report that they have unlocked one major barrier to exploiting this renewable energy source.
Because the best-performing catalysts for electrochemical oxidation, or “water splitting”, are expensive precious metals, the research team led by KTH Professor Licheng Sun is one of many worldwide searching for cheaper alternatives. Sun had earlier developed molecular catalysts for water oxidation () with an efficiency approaching that of natural photosynthesis.
Last week his teamthat it has discovered that a new material composed of common earth-abundant elements could be used as a catalyst for water splitting, which could help change the economics of large scale hydrogen fuel production.
Sweden is on its way to becoming the world’s first cashless society, thanks to the country’s embrace of IT, as well as a crackdown on organized crime and terror, according to a study from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Niklas Arvidsson, an industrial technology and management researcher at KTH, says that the widespread and growing embrace of the mobile payment system, Swish, is helping hasten the day when Sweden replaces cash altogether.
“Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here in Sweden,” Arvidsson says. “Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly.”
A method for making elastic high-capacity batteries from wood pulp was unveiled by researchers in Sweden and the US. Using nanocellulose broken down from tree fibres, a team from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University produced an elastic, foam-like battery material that can withstand shock and stress.
“It is possible to make incredible materials from trees and cellulose,” says Max Hamedi, who is a researcher at KTH and Harvard University. One benefit of the new wood-based aerogel material is that it can be used for three-dimensional structures.
“There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D, ” Hamedi says. “We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three dimensions, enabling us to fit more electronics in a smaller space.”
A Swedish company has cracked the challenge of scaling up wave energy, with the help of technology from researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
CorPower Ocean’s new wave energy system, which uses a gearbox design that KTH researchers helped develop, generates five times more energy per ton of device, at one third of the cost when compared to competing state-of-the art technologies. Energy output is three to four times higher than traditional wave power systems.