Scientists discover a way to produce green hydrogen from water at room temperature
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Researchers say they’ve found a way to use water to produce H2 gas that can be used for energy.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) have announced that they have found a new way for generating green hydrogen using water at room temperature.
This could help to propel forward the production and use of this zero-emission fuel source.
The production of green hydrogen itself isn’t anything new. This is a form of H2 typically made using water electrolysis powered by renewable energy such as solar or wind energy. That way, both its production and use do not result in greenhouse gas emissions.
At its most basic level, water electrolysis – also known as electrochemical water splitting – is a process that breaks apart the oxygen and hydrogen molecules in water using electricity.
What the researchers at UCSC have found is a way to complete that process at room temperature, without the requirement of the electric input. They have done so through the development of a special aluminum composite that causes a reaction with the water at room temperature. Aluminum is naturally a reactive material that will cause the oxygen to split away from water molecules, allowing the H2 to remain. That said, this doesn’t just happen all on its own because the metal produces a layer of aluminum oxide at room temperature, creating a barrier between it and the water and preventing the reaction.
The scientists found a way to use the aluminum for electrolysis resulting in green hydrogen fuel.
The researchers discovered that by applying an easily created composite of aluminum and gallium, the aluminum will react with water even at room temperature, resulting in the production of H2 without CO2 emissions. In this way, additional electricity isn’t necessary.
“We don’t need any energy input, and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy,” said Scott Oliver, UCSC chemistry professor, in a recent news release by the university. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The combination of aluminum and gallium has long been known to produce hydrogen from water. What the research team at UCSC discovered was that by boosting the gallium’s ratio to aluminum in the composite also raised the amount of green hydrogen produced from its presence.
“Our method uses a small amount of aluminum, which ensures it all dissolves into the majority gallium as discrete nanoparticles,” added Oliver.