For hydrogen generation from an aqueous alkaline NaBH4 solution, a novel biomass precursor for the production of Co/activated carbon (Co/AC)) catalyst was studied in this investigation. To design a hydrogen generator, the hydrogen generation rate was measured using the Co/AC catalyst as a function of calcination time, calcination temperature and impregnation mass ratio of CoCl2/AC. SEM and XRD analysis revealed that the prepared catalyst consisted of a crystalline form of Co3O4 and had a good dispersion and coating properties. It was observed that increasing the solution temperature causes more hydrogen generation. The activation energy for the NaBH4 hydrolysis reaction was calculated to be 37.4 kJ mol−1.