Hydrogen as a solution for renewable energy

Date:30 October 2019 Author: Leila Stein Tags:,

A new research paper outlines how, by using the process of electrolysis powered by an electric current generated with renewable energy, it is possible to produce hydrogen with zero carbon emissions.

Published in the Nature Communications journal researchers from universities in the UK, Portugal, Germany and Hungary describe how they pulsed an electric current through a layered catalyst that allowed them to almost double the amount of hydrogen produced per millivolt of electricity used during the process.

Electrolysis is a process whereby an electric current is used to split the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water, releasing hydrogen and oxygen gas. This gas can then be used as a zero-emission fuel source in some forms of transport such as buses and cars or for heating homes. By using an alternate source for the electricity needed, this entire process does not contribute to climate change at all.

“Currently the UK meets about a third of its energy production needs through renewable sources, and in Scotland that figure is about 80%” said Dr. Alexey Ganin, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry, who directed the research team, in a statement.

“Experts predict that we’ll soon reach a point where we’ll be producing more renewable electricity than our consumption demands. However, as it currently stands the excess of generated energy must be used as it’s produced or else it goes to waste. It’s vital that we develop a robust suite of methods to store the energy for later use.”

Hydrogen is a way to do that. The team used electrodes covered with a molybedenum telluride catalyst that showed an increase in the amount of hydrogen gas produced during the electrolysis when a specific pattern of high-current pulses was applied. They found they could reduce the amount of energy needed to make a given amount of hydrogen by nearly 50%.

The team plan to develop an artificial intelligence protocol that will replace the need for humans to be involved in the process and make the entire extraction more streamlined.

Image: @tcemagazine/ Twitter

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