Associate Professor of Chemistry Mahdi Abu-Omar, lead researcher, said the discovery might help speed the creation of viable hydrogen storage technology.
Although the method has not yet been evaluated for economic feasibility on a large scale, Abu-Omar said it might offer solutions to several problems facing fuel cell developers. He said the technique requires only water, a catalyst based on the metal rhenium and an organic liquid called an organosilane, which can be easily stored and transported.
"We have discovered a catalyst that can produce ready quantities of hydrogen without the need for extreme cold temperatures or high pressures, which are often required in other production and storage methods," said Abu-Omar. "It is possible this technique could lead to fuel cells that are safe, efficient and not dependent on fossil fuels as their energy source."
The research team, which includes Purdue's Elon Ison and Rex Corbin, published their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.