Researchers closer to affordable green hydrogen

Thursday, 16 May, 2019


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As Australia ramps up its renewable sources of energy, the ability to produce affordable ‘green’ hydrogen remains a challenge.

Hydrogen is a flexible resource for storing and recovering excess generated energy, especially from intermittent renewable sources. Electrolytic water splitting is currently considered to be the most feasible method for the industrial production of green hydrogen fuel.

A study published in Nature Catalysis has identified a variation on water-splitting technology that could provide stability and affordability to green hydrogen production.

Lead author Dr Alexandr Simonov from the Monash School of Chemistry explained that renewable energy requires an efficient carrier that will allow energy to be delivered throughout Australia and exported.

“In a practical context this requires robust electromaterials — catalysts, which can accelerate two half-reactions of the water-splitting process — the hydrogen evolution and the oxygen evolution reactions,” he said.

“Our research team has introduced an intrinsically stable, ‘self-healing’ catalytic system based on Earth-abundant elements to promote the water electrolysis process in a strongly acidic environment and elevated temperatures.

“The catalyst demonstrates the state-of-the-art activity, and most importantly, exhibits unparalleled stability under a wide range of aggressive, technologically relevant conditions of water splitting,” Dr Simonov explained. He commented that the stability and low cost of the catalytic system could make it a suitable option for use in the industrial production of green hydrogen fuel.

Professor Doug MacFarlane, study co-author and ARC Laureate Fellow at the Monash School of Chemistry, said the investigation of water oxidation electrocatalysts is a core theme within the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science. He emphasised that the rapidly developing national renewable energy sector makes the research critically important.

“This work represents a breakthrough that will bring inexpensive generation of green hydrogen from renewables much closer to reality. It is an important development that will further establish Australia’s role as a global powerhouse in the generation and export of renewables.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/artegorov3@gmail

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