Hydrogen squeezed from stone could be new energy source

Scientists from the University of Lyon have discovered a new way to split hydrogen gas from water, using rocks. The method promises a new green energy source, providing copious hydrogen from a simple mixture of rock and water. It speeds up a chemical reaction that takes geological timescales in nature. In the reaction, the mineral olivine strips one oxygen and hydrogen atom from an H2O molecule to form a mineral called serpentine, releasing the spare hydrogen atom.

The results were discussed at this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, and have been published in the journal American Mineralogist. The researchers heated olivine minerals in water to a couple of hundred degrees Celsius, and added a little bit of ruby (aluminium oxide) to the mix to provide a source of aluminium atoms. The whole mix was placed into a miniature pressure cooker, formed of two diamonds, that squeezed the mixture to 2,000 atmospheres pressure. The transparent diamonds allowed the scientists to watch the reaction take place. Edited from Hydrogen squeezed from stone could be new energy source.

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