Scientists have found a way of generating green hydrogen from atmospheric moisture and electricity. In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists found that electrolyzing humidity in the air can produce viable hydrogen. The discovery means hydrogen can be generated even in regions that do not have natural water bodies.
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“We have developed a so-called ‘direct air electrolyzer,’” in short, DAE,” said Gang Kevin Li, a senior lecturer at The University of Melbourne and co-author of the paper. “This module uses a hygroscopic electrolyte exposed to the atmosphere constantly. Such electrolyte has a high potential to extract moisture from air spontaneously (without external energy input), making it readily available for electrolysis and hydrogen production once coupled with a (renewable) power supply.”
Related: New hydrogen production tech could reduce CO2 pollution
While hydrogen generation through electrolysis is not something new, it has always required the presence of water. Traditionally, two electrodes are used in liquid water. An electric current is run through the water breaking it into oxygen and hydrogen. While this approach has proven effective, it limits the areas where hydrogen can be generated. For instance, it is almost impossible to generate hydrogen in remote areas where there is no sufficient supply of water.
“The ability to use moisture from air makes this DAE module applicable in remote, arid and semi-arid environments where the accessibility to fresh water is a big problem,” said Li. “Most areas on earth with high solar and wind potentials lack fresh water. For example, a desert is deemed a good place for solar power but no fresh water.”
Thereby, this new method can both run and produce renewable energy. These findings may open doors in the future of solar-to-fuel conversion devices that can be operated anywhere on Earth. And, in short, overcoming the water shortage problem with this way of hydrogen production.
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