Researchers in Australia, an island nation, have successfully split seawater to produce green hydrogen without pre-treatment. An international chemical engineering team, led by the University of Adelaide’s Professor Shizhang Qiao and Associate Professor Yao Zheng, were motivated by the fact that the only thing emitted by hydrogen fuel is water.
“We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 percent efficiency, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyzer,” said Professor Qiao.
“We used seawater as a feedstock without the need for any pre-treatment processes like reverse osmosis desolation, purification, or alkalization,” said Associate Professor Zheng.
The team reports that the performance of their seawater with catalysts of cobalt oxide and chromium oxide is close to the performance of expensive platinum/iridium catalysts running in a feedstock of highly purified deionized water.
“Increased demand for hydrogen to partially or totally replace energy generated by fossil fuels will significantly increase scarcity of increasingly-limited freshwater resources,” explained Zheng.
Seawater is an almost infinite resource and is considered a natural feedstock electrolyte, which would be very practical for regions with long coastlines and abundant sunlight.
The success of Australian researchers in producing green hydrogen from seawater without pre-treatment could inspire other countries to explore the potential of this abundant resource. This breakthrough offers a sustainable solution to the increasing demand for hydrogen, which is expected to replace fossil fuels in the future. Countries with long coastlines and abundant sunlight, particularly in regions where freshwater resources are limited, could benefit greatly from this technology.
Moreover, this innovation could lead to new business opportunities in the green energy sector, particularly in the development and production of cheap and non-precious catalysts for seawater electrolysis. The scalability of this technology could open up new possibilities for the widespread use of green hydrogen, creating a new market for businesses to invest in.