We are always looking for newer and better ways of generating energy, hydrogen is a pretty great fuel for energy production, however, harvesting this element is a bit difficult, which is why it is having a hard time in becoming a mainstream fuel source. Luckily, scientists and South Korea have recently developed a newer process for extracting hydrogen from water, making the production of hydrogen more efficient than the water electrolysis systems that we have been using up till now.
The new device for hydrogen production was built using an older design of electrolysis technology known as solid oxide electrolyser cell. The team behind the new design consists of scientists from UNIST and the KIER, along with from the Sookmyung Women’s University as well. The basic working in this design is the same as with other electrolysis systems, a current is used to split the molecules within water and then the molecules are harvested, but what sets it apart is the fact that the electrodes and the electrolyte are both solid-state.
Using solid-state components has a number of advantages, one being that the electrodes work at higher temperatures and do not need as much electricity as liquid-state systems, there is also lesser corrosion and you do not need to monitor the liquid as frequently. This system is much more efficient, however it is far from perfect, and the biggest hurdle with solid-state systems is that they can be setup to allow only one kind of ions to pass through at a time, meaning that the amount of hydrogen that can be produced at a time is limited.
Fortunately, the newer system that scientists have developed provides a workaround for this problem, the new system is a hybrid of solid-state and liquid-state electrolysis, the system makes use of mixed-ion conductors to transport oxygen and hydrogen molecules at the same time, greatly improving efficiency. Basically, the hybrid system causes water electrodes to take place at both electrodes, multiplying the amount of hydrogen being made.
The hybrid system, using a mixed-ion conductor and layered perovskite electrodes managed to produce around 1.9 L of hydrogen in an hour, using a cell voltage of 1.5V and operating at a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius, making it four times more efficient than currently used electrolysis systems and a great thing about this setup is that even after running it continuously for 60 hours, no signs of performance degradation were seen.
If this method of harvesting hydrogen does get implemented on a large scale, then it can definitely provide a significant boost to our current hydrogen production capabilities, researchers are hopeful that their hybrid solid-state system manages to bring a change to how hydrogen is currently being generated.