SCIENTISTS at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have discovered a new way to create cheap as well as fast hydrogen for fuel. They created a cheap nickel catalyst which is 10 times better at producing hydrogen than its enzyme counterparts. A team of scientists led by Daniel Du Bois mimicked the active site of hydrogenases by creating a nickel complex which was surrounded by pendant amines. They discovered that once one amine was protonated, another amine would also co-ordinate, which would lead to the creation of what they called a 'pinch complex that prevents proton delivery. The team stopped the so-called pinching by slashing the number of pendant amines and positioning them on opposite sides of the molecule. What they got was a flattened complex, which, upon application of a potential difference, was able to generate hydrogen at a rate of 106,000 molecules a second. The rate was 10 times faster than even hydrogenase enzymes. Speaking on the topic, Professor Gavin Walker from the University of Nottingham, who was not involved in the study, said, In general, enzymes are already a lot faster than traditional catalysts like platinum - normally orders of magnitude faster, so this is exciting. Platinum electrodes can be used to generating hydrogen in electrochemical cells but it is not feasible as the metal is scarce and expensive. TN