A new approach to producing hydrogen has been developed by researchers at UCLA.

Dr Vasilios Manousiothakis, based in the Department of Chemical Engineering has found a way to produce the gas by decomposing water in a process which takes place below current thermochemical cycle temperatures. The method can be used for the simultaneous generation of pure hydrogen, oxygen and electricity and can use a variety of energy sources including fossil fuels, nuclear and solar.

Usually thermal decomposition of water usually requires temperatures hotter than 2,000C. This new method uses a relatively low temperature of around 900C.

A spokesman said the innovation lies in the optimisation of intermediates, operating temperatures, kinetics, heat removal and control of the rate of reaction and electricity cogeneration.

The innovation is still at a conceptual stage although some of the individual steps in the process have been made and temperatures recorded. Kinetic information about elements of the cycle is also known. A provisional patent has been filed.

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