Credit: Mercedes Martinez, LANL
A breakthrough into splitting water into its parts could help make renewable energy pay off, even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.
Using solar and wind power when it is available for water splitting, a process that uses electricity to split H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, offers a way to store energy in the form of hydrogen fuel.
Currently the most popular system used for water splitting, or water electrolysis, relies on precious metals as catalysts, but a collaborative research team, including scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Washington State University, has developed a system that uses less expensive and more abundant materials. They describe the advance in a paper published in Nature Energy on March 9.
“The current water electrolysis system uses a very expensive catalyst. In our system, we use a nickel-iron based catalyst, which is much cheaper, but the performance is comparable,” said Yu Seung Kim, a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and corresponding author on the paper.
Most water splitting today is conducted using a piece of equipment called a proton exchange membrane water electrolyzer, which generates hydrogen at a high production rate. It’s expensive, and works under very acidic conditions, requiring precious metal catalysts such as platinum and iridium as well as corrosion-resistant metal plates made of titanium.
The research team worked to solve this problem by splitting water under alkaline, or basic, conditions with an anion exchange membrane electrolyzer. This type of electolyzer does not need a catalyst based on precious metals. In fact, a team led by Yuehe Lin, professor at WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, created a catalyst based on nickel and iron, elements that are less expensive and more abundant in the environment.
Lin’s team shared their development with Kim at Los Alamos, whose team in turn developed the electrode binder to use with the catalyst. The electrode binder is a hydroxide conducting polymer that binds catalysts and provides a high pH environment for fast electrochemical reactions.
The combination of the Los Alamos-developed electrode binder and WSU’s catalyst boosted the hydrogen production rate to nearly ten times the rate of previous anion exchange membrane electrolyzers, making it comparable with the more expensive proton exchange membrane electrolyzer.
About 10 million metric tons of hydrogen are currently produced in the United States every year, mostly by using natural gas in a process called natural gas reforming, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Hydrogen produced from a water splitting process that is powered by electricity from renewable energy holds many economic and environmental benefits, Lin said.
“Water splitting is a clean technology, but you need electricity to do it,” said Lin, who is also a corresponding author on the paper. “Now we have a lot of renewable energy, wind and solar power, but it is intermittent. For example, at night, we can’t use solar, but if during the day, we can use extra energy to convert it into something else, like hydrogen, that’s very promising.”
The global hydrogen generation market is expected reach $199.1 billion by 2023. Potential markets for hydrogen energy include everything from mass energy conversion and power grid management to fuel cells for cars. Lin estimates that there are approximately 600 wind farms in the United States ready for direct connections to water electrolysis systems.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Global Water Treatment Equipment Market 2020 Report Explores Key Regions, Company Profile, Opportunity and Challenge to 2025on February 24, 2021 at 4:53 pm
The recently uploaded report titled Global Water Treatment Equipment Market 2020 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2025 delivers detailed information on the industry ...
- Montana’s senators split on Interior nominee after hearings heavy on energy issueson February 24, 2021 at 4:52 pm
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland faced sharp questioning this week about opinions some Republicans say are “radical” and unfavorable toward energy production.
- 2 Montana senators to split votes on Rep. Haaland's confirmationon February 24, 2021 at 1:58 pm
Sen. Tester announced he would vote to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary, while Sen. Daines said he would oppose the confirmation .
- Emmerdale fans convinced Jai and Laurel will split after he accuses her of drinking againon February 24, 2021 at 11:45 am
EMMERDALE fans are predicting a split for Jai Sharma and Laurel Thomas. The restaurant manger and the businessman have been struggling in recent months after their decision to end a pregnancy and ...
- Terence Ma, Former VP of USA Water Polo, Reflects on Leadershipon February 24, 2021 at 10:02 am
In an extensive interview with Swimming World, former VP Terence Ma takes aim at USA Water Polo's current leaders: Mike Graff & Chris Ramsey.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Nikola Sets Sights on Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle Marketon February 24, 2021 at 3:10 pm
Nikola Corp., a company that specializes in zero-emissions transportation and infrastructure solutions, has unveiled details about its North American ...
- Europe, Asian Nations Leading The World In Hydrogen Developmenton February 24, 2021 at 8:39 am
Of the 228 large-scale industrial, transport and infrastructure hydrogen projects across the world more than half, 126, are projected to be located in Europe, while 46 are planned to be built in Asia, ...
- Biopolymer-Coated Nanocatalyst Could Drive a Hydrogen Fuel-Based Futureon February 24, 2021 at 8:25 am
A newly devised nanorod catalyst could help water splitting by sunlight become a viable and eco-friendly route to hydrogen fuel.
- Nikola Details Its Plans For Electric And Hydrogen Truckson February 24, 2021 at 5:00 am
Nikola has been very quiet since its deal with General Motors was significantly scaled down in November 2020, but it has now detailed its plan for all-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks. The ...
- Hydrogen generation market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 4% in terms of revenue during the forecast period 2020 - 2027on February 24, 2021 at 4:48 am
The global hydrogen generation market size is expected to reach of around US$ 120 by 2027 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 4% in terms of revenue during the forecast period 2020 - 2027 ...