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University of Adelaide researchers and their international partners have successfully used seawater with no pre-treatment to produce green hydrogen. They did this by introducing an acid layer over the catalysts in situ.
University of Adelaide researchers have led an international team to the discovery of a method under which water straight from the ocean can be used in a commercial electrolyzer to efficiently produce green hydrogen.
“We used seawater as a feedstock without the need for any pre-treatment processes like reverse osmosis desolation, purification, or alkalisation,” said Associate Professor Yao Zheng, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering.
The team simply filtered the seawater, which came from the Huanghai Sea in China, to remove solids and microorganisms.
“The performance of a commercial electrolyser with our catalysts running in seawater is close to the performance of platinum/iridium catalysts running in a feedstock of highly purified deionised water,” said Zheng.
The discovery addresses concerns about water scarcity that have lingered around green hydrogen discussions. The researchers have described the ocean as an “almost infinite resource,” accounting for 96.5% of the earth’s water reserves, but it has proven challenging due to the complexities of the water profile. The team’s solution boils down to adjusting the local reaction environment of the catalyst.
The team consists of researchers from China’s Tianjin University and Nankai University, as well as Kent State University in the United States. They published their research in Nature Energy this week.
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