Australia-led research splits seawater to produce green hydrogen
12:34, January 31, 2023

CANBERRA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- An international research led by the University of Adelaide has successfully split seawater to produce green hydrogen.

File photo: AFP

In a study published on Tuesday, the team of scientists revealed they had found a way to electrolyze seawater into hydrogen fuel without pre-treatment.

The research was led by Qiao Shizhang and Zheng Yao from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide in collaboration with Tianjin University and Nankai University in China and Kent State University in the United States.

Clean hydrogen is produced by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen -- a process known as electrolysis. However, existing technologies require a feedstock of water of high purity, which is achieved with chemical additives.

Tuesday's study proved that electrolysis can be achieved with seawater with microorganisms filtered out with a similar efficiency to highly purified water.

"We used seawater as a feedstock without the need for any pre-treatment processes like reverse osmosis desolation, purification, or alkalisation," Zheng said in a media release.

"Current electrolysers are operated with highly purified water electrolyte. Increased demand for hydrogen to partially or totally replace energy generated by fossil fuels will significantly increase the scarcity of increasingly limited freshwater resources.

"Our work provides a solution to directly utilize seawater without pre-treatment systems and alkali addition, which shows similar performance as that of existing metal-based mature pure water electrolyser."

Hydrogen is widely considered the ideal zero-emissions fuel for the future.

In September, the Australian government announced funding to build the country's first large-scale hydrogen plant.

The team said they will now work on scaling up their system by using a larger electrolyser with a view to making it commercially viable.