A new method converts seawater straight into green hydrogen

No desalination is required in the novel method.
Chris Young
The new method at work.
The new method at work.


The world is still debating the use of hydrogen as a viable green fuel for EVs. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called the idea "staggeringly dumb", while the BMW Group strongly disagrees and is banking on hydrogen EV innovations.

The 2021 IPCC report, however, urged scientists and engineers to double down on renewable energy efforts and consider all options.

Now, a group of scientists from RMIT University in Australia has developed a cheaper and more energy-efficient method for making hydrogen directly from seawater, and it could be a crucial step toward a viable global green hydrogen industry.

New seawater conversion method requires no desalination

The new method splits seawater directly into hydrogen and oxygen without the need for desalination. This is a great bonus as desalination is typically a costly and energy-intensive process that also tends to produce carbon emissions.

In fact, almost all hydrogen today is derived from fossil fuels, and its production is responsible for approximately 830 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Green hydrogen, which is made by splitting water, is incredibly costly to produce and, therefore, only accounts for roughly 1 percent of total hydrogen production worldwide.

"Our method to produce hydrogen straight from seawater is simple, scaleable and far more cost-effective than any green hydrogen approach currently in the market," explained lead researcher Dr. Nasir Mahmood from RMIT. "With further development, we hope this could advance the establishment of a thriving green hydrogen industry in Australia."

Dramatically cutting the costs of green hydrogen production

The scientists filed a provisional patent based on their method, detailed in a study published in the Wiley journal, Small. The scientists used an electrolyzer to send an electric current through water. This splits it into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen.

Unlike traditional methods, which produce a large amount of potentially harmful chlorine as a byproduct, the new method produces no chlorine.

The method uses a particular type of electrolyzer that was developed to work with seawater. They are also energy efficient and can be used at room temperature, the researchers explained. Ultimately, they believe the technology could dramatically cut the cost of electrolyzers. So much so that it could help meet the Australian Government's goal for green hydrogen production of $2 per kilogram.

Source: Press statement

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