In the near future, the renewable energy storage systems could receive a helping hand from meteorites that are coming from outer space.
A team of scientists at EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) found that prehistoric fragments of a meteorite from Namibia can be turned into high-performing catalysts for the energy storage systems used by renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
The scientists decided to cut a few slices from the meteorite to turn them into electrodes, but before testing their efficiency, they removed all the oxides found on the slices.
The electrodes made from meteorite slices were put on a glass piece for mechanical stability, the electric wire was sewn on the slice and all the pieces were glued together with a non-reactive adhesive.
Electric current was passed through the electrodes to split the hydrogen from water molecules (water oxidation).
The hydrogen obtained this way can be used to store energy produced from renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Scientists saw that the nickel and cobalt impurities present in the rock and the unique composition of the meteorite make it to be so useful during the water oxidation process.
The Swiss researchers saw that the performance of the meteorite was improved during the chemical reaction due to the fact that a very reactive layer was formed on the meteorite during the experiments.
The team of Swiss researchers said that the Gibeon meteorite shows the potential of the natural materials to be used as high-performance electrocatalyst in the near future.