Adelaide University has announced advanced research into the use of metal nanoparticles in the generation of hydrogen energy.


Led by Associate Professor Greg Metha, Adelaide University’s Head of Chemistry, the research is centred on how metal nanoparticles can be used as highly efficient catalysts in using solar radiation to split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms.


"Efficient and direct production of hydrogen from solar radiation provides a renewable energy source that is the pinnacle of clean energy," said Associate Professor Metha.


"We believe this work will contribute significantly to the global effort to convert solar energy into portable chemical energy."


The group works with metal "clusters" of about one-quarter of a nanometre in size - less than 10 atoms. Associate Professor Metha said these tiny "magic clusters" act as super-efficient catalysts, which in turn drive chemical reactions and thereby reducing the amount of energy required.


"We've discovered ways of producing these tiny metallic clusters, we've explored their fundamental chemical activity, and now we are applying their catalytic properties to reactions which have great potential benefit for industrial use and the environment," said Associate Professor Metha.


This project 'Solar Hydrogen: photocatalytic generation of hydrogen from water', has been funded under the three-year clean energy partnership between Adelaide Airport Ltd and the University's Centre for Energy Technology.