An international team of scientists in Australia may held the promising answer for clean energy by devising a unique method to split sea water to produce hydrogen.
1. Hydrogen power
Aiming to extract hydrogen for energy generation, scientists from the University of Adelaide, in Australia, are assessing different ways of production, taking into account ways that won’t jeopardise existing natural resources. Published in the journal Nature Energy, the work of these scientists reveals the use of a low-cost catalyst, cobalt oxide coated with chromium oxide.
We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100% efficiency to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyzer.Shizhang Qiao, the university professor leading the team
Researchers have successfully split natural seawater without pre-treatment with nearly 100% efficiency to produce green hydrogen 👨🏻🔬— Uni of Adelaide (@UniofAdelaide) February 2, 2023
Find out more 👉🏼 https://t.co/t8Bo4fnrie pic.twitter.com/wW1B6ZicIG
Qiao’s work could potentially complement a recent work developed by a team of researchers, in China, which developed a membrane-based seawater electrolyzer capable of directly splitting seawater to produce hydrogen. However, the team in Australia is currently working to scale up the system they invented by using a “larger electrolyzer so that it can be used in commercial processes such as hydrogen generation for fuel cells and ammonia synthesis.”
The process conducted by the team includes using seawater without being subjected to treatment stages like reverse osmosis desolation, purification, or alkalization. Researchers were able to match the performance of a commercial electrolyzer with their catalyst and seawater to a system with platinum/iridium catalysts running in a feedstock of highly purified deionized water.
3. Abundant source
The abundance of seawater around the globe makes it an ideal natural feedstock electrolyte to generate hydrogen, which is increasingly becoming a source of green energy in various sectors. However, such a process isn’t practical for scarce seawater regions, especially in times of severe draught across the world. Moreover, researchers still need to find a way to deal with the issues associated to seawater electrolysis as it exhibits increased electrode side reactions and corrosion arising from the complexities of using seawater compared to pure water.
“It is always necessary to treat impure water to a level of water purity for conventional electrolyzers, including desalination and deionization, which increases the operation and maintenance cost of the processes,” said Zao Zheng, an associate professor at the university.