And it’s one that hasn’t been pre-cleaned. Authors write about their accomplishments in the pages nature energy, showing how the new process outperforms the competition. And there’s a lot at stake because we’re talking about finding alternatives to fossil fuels – and of course hydrogen is one of them.
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Hydrogen does not emit a greenhouse gas, and if that is not enough, water is used to produce it. While the sweet began to be in short supply, the salty – filling the seas and oceans – is very common. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change another fact: the high costs associated with obtaining hydrogen this way.
We describe direct electrolysis of real seawater that has not been alkalized or acidified, achieving long-term stability in excess of 100 hours at 500 mA cm.-2 and performance similar to a typical PEM cell operating in high purity water.
Hydrogen is a valuable alternative to the fossil fuels currently in use
Thus electrolysis is key to operating the new method. Thanks to him, electricity is used to break down the hydrogen and oxygen that make up water molecules. However, this usually requires treated water, which in turn means deionization, desalination, and alkaline additions. In this case, electrolysis performed “at cost” was sufficient.
Of course, the most important thing is the final result, and this result is at least satisfactory. But why the low costs? In contrast to traditional electrolysis, which uses hard-to-reach precious metals, here the researchers propose the use of base metal catalysts. More precisely, it was a transition metal covered with a layer of chromium oxide. There was no need to purify the sea water, it was sufficient to filter it and remove microorganisms and large objects.
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Most of the methods currently used require pre-treatment of water and the use of expensive catalysts. The new approach does not require such factors, while offering nearly identical performance. This is undoubtedly a great sign in the context of working on hydrogen production. However, the interested parties themselves emphasize that it is now necessary to ascertain whether unexpected side reactions will not appear in the long term. In addition, it will be necessary to find out what the scale of this operation looks like and whether it does not involve any unexpected costs.
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