The Economist (requires subscription)
The brain behind this idea is Donald Highgate, a polymers expert, who made his name in the 1970s by developing soft contact lenses. The polymer he has come up with this time is used to make what are known as proton-exchange membranes. These, depending on how the device containing them is set up, can act as the guts of a fuel cell or as its opposite, turning water and electricity into hydrogen and oxygen.
That process is known as electrolysis, and normal commercial electrolysers are chunky units placed next to power stations to produce industrial quantities of hydrogen for the chemical industry. They rely on platinum, a metal that costs twice as much as gold, to catalyse the reaction.
Existing fuel cells intended for cars are not quite so greedy.
Making hydrogen at home, using one of these membranes, gets around the problem of a lack of hydrogen filling stations. In effect, hydrogen becomes a way of storing off-peak electricity. The result can be pumped into your car and run through a fuel cell—or even burned in a conventional internal combustion engine.
Sounds great to me. What’s one of those thingies gonna cost me and how many uses do I get out of it?