A composition of matter suitable for the generation of hydrogen from water is described, the positively charged cation of the composition having the general formula [(PY5W.sub.2)MO].sup.2+, wherein PY5W.sub.2 is (NC.sub.5XYZ)(NC.sub.5H.sub.4).sub.4C.sub.2W.sub.2, M is a transition metal, and W, X, Y, and Z can be H, R, a halide, CF.sub.3, or SiR.sub.3, where R can be an alkyl or aryl group. The two accompanying counter anions, in one embodiment, can be selected from the following Cl.sup.-, I.sup.-, PF.sub.6.sup.-, and CF.sub.3SO.sub.3.sup.-. In embodiments of the invention, water, such as tap water containing electrolyte or straight sea water can be subject to an electric potential of between 1.0 V and 1.4 V relative to the standard hydrogen electrode, which at pH 7 corresponds to an overpotential of 0.6 to 1.0 V, with the result being, among other things, the generation of hydrogen with an optimal turnover frequency of ca. 1.5 million mol H.sub.2/mol catalyst per h.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
The invention described and claimed herein was made in part utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 and the National Science Foundation under Contract No. CHE-0617063. The government has certain rights in this invention.