In a groundbreaking experiment, a group of scientists from across the world was able to produce eco-friendly green hydrogen from saltwater without subjecting the water to any kind of pretreatment. The findings of the study were written up and presented in an article for the journal Nature Energy. The group came up with a novel technology that may be used with saltwater on its own, without the addition of alkali or any other pre-treatments.
As most existing methods rely on water that has been extensively deionized, this new invention represents a significant step towards the creation of environmentally friendly hydrogen.
Professor Shizhang Qiao and Associate Professor Yao Zheng, both from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide, were the ones in charge of leading the study. The following, as stated by Professor Qiao:
We were able to separate oxygen and hydrogen from natural seawater with an efficiency of about one hundred percent. This allowed us to manufacture green hydrogen via electrolysis by using a catalyst that did not need a precious metal and was quite inexpensive.
Professor Yao Zheng provided the following in more explanation:
“We used seawater as a feedstock without the need for any pre-treatment processes like reverse osmosis desolation, purification, or alkalization. Current electrolyzers are operated with highly purified water electrolytes. Increased demand for hydrogen to partially or totally replace energy generated by fossil fuels will significantly increase the scarcity of increasingly limited freshwater resources. 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. Our work provides a solution to directly utilize seawater without pre-treatment systems and alkali addition, which shows similar performance as that of existing metal-based mature pure water electrolyzer.”
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