Scientists just made Hydrogen out of Nothing but Air!!!
Hydrogen is the ultimate clean energy. Despite being the most abundant element in the universe, pure hydrogen only exists trapped inside glaciers and icebergs. The hydrogen gas that we use is extracted from hydrogenous compounds by using different methods. The method of producing pure hydrogen by electrolysis of water seems to be the most promising and by far the cleanest process. However, this clean and green process is constrained by the availability of freshwater, which is itself a scarce resource. Desalination can be a viable solution, but that will drastically increase the cost and complexity of hydrogen production. You can see green hydrogen production imposes a number of challenges. So, should we drop the idea of producing hydrogen through electrolysis and resort to our old ways? Well, researchers at Melbourne University like to think otherwise. Researchers have tested a direct air electrolyzer that can pull hydrogen straight out of the air using ambient humidity. How were they able to pull off this incredible feat? We will get into that and also talk about the future prospects of this technology. But before we begin, let’s say a few words on hydrogen production and electrolysis.
Electrolysis is the process by which water is separated into its two components, that is, hydrogen and oxygen gas, by using electricity. This is a certain type of electrochemical reaction and the unit where the reaction takes place is called an electrolyzer. Similar to fuel cells, electrolyzers consist of an anode and a cathode separated by an electrolyte. Different types of electrolyzers function in multiple different ways. This is mainly because of the type of electrolyte that the unit uses and the different species of ionic compounds that it’s handling. There are mainly three different types of electrolyzers that are commercially used for hydrogen production.
Credit The Tesla Domain