Bathroom loofah could hold key to hydrogen breakthrough

The future of green energy production could be transformed by the catalysing properties of the humble sponge. 

Findings published in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces shows that by combining a sample of a loofah with nano-sized silver donuts, water can easily be split into hydrogen and oxygen if an electrical current is allowed to pass through it. 

This could mean that green hydrogen might become far cheaper to produce than current methods allow for, offering a significant boost to hopes that the fuel source offers a ‘missing link’ in the energy mix of renewable and low carbon on which the future relies. 

‘Hydrogen as a fuel stands out as a key solution in meeting the rising energy demand, explained Dr Amor Abdelkader, Associate Professor in Advanced Materials at Bournemouth University. ‘But the most common method of producing it, by ‘cracking’ hydrocarbon gasses, is heavily reliant on fossil fuels. It is essential that we reduce the carbon footprint in hydrogen production for a safer and sustainable future.’

‘We chose a loofah for the body because it contains carbon and nitrogen which are ideal ingredients for a catalyst and its natural tube-like structure is perfect for adding other ingredients,’ said Chirag Ratwani, a Bournemouth University researcher and leading member of the team. ‘Silver also has important catalytic properties, so we developed a number of tiny rings – like nano donuts – from silver and inserted them into the loofah’s micro tubes.’

Last year, Environment Journal has asked if green hydrogen could be the pipe dream come true, looking at off-grid energy use, high powered vehicles and air travel as examples of areas in which the element could prove invaluable. Last week, we covered the new Sirius Jet, a hydrogen-powered private plane which developers hope could be carrying passengers by 2028. 

More on energy:

New guide to local authority grants for green, renewable energy transition

WATCH: Campaign begins for local authority controlled housing policy

Energy union: UK electricity grid upgrade will fail on skills shortage


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top