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Scientists Turn Electricity into Hydrogen Using Only Microwaves

The new technology can be used in energy storage and in the production of synthetic fuels and green chemicals.

Researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have discovered a new technology for transforming electricity into hydrogen or chemical products by using only microwaves. The discovery is being touted as a key development for the decarbonization of the process industry.

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“It is a technology with great practical potential, especially for its use in energy storage and production of synthetic fuels and green chemicals. This aspect has significant importance nowadays, as both transportation and industry are immersed in a transition towards decarbonization and electrification, meaning they have to meet very challenging targets in 2030 and 2040 in order to decrease the consumption of energy and substances from fossil sources, mainly natural gas and oil,” said Prof. José Manuel Serra, a researcher from the Chemical Technology Institute (ITQ).

This novel method significantly reduces capital costs as it enables scientists to carry out electrochemical processes directly without the need for electrodes. But that's not its only useful application. 

"This method will make it possible to transform renewable electricity, typically of solar or wind origin, into added value products and green fuels. It has countless uses and we hope that new uses will emerge for energy storage and process industry, by tuning materials composition and operation conditions”, explained Prof. José Manuel Catalá, a researcher at the ITACA Institute of the UPV.

Batteries that charge in seconds

Another one of its applications is quite a popular one: the ultra-fast charging of batteries. The new technology could even enable the charging of batteries in seconds. Wow!

Catalá explained: “Our technology could enable a practically instantaneous reduction (electron injection) of the electrode (metallic anode) that stores energy." Essentially it means that they could go from a (2D) layer-based progressive charging, which can take hours, to a simultaneous recharging process that takes the entire volume of material (3D), cutting down recharging time to a few seconds.

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