Hydrogen energyProject Bio Inspired Hydrogen Generation
Report: Hydrogen Generation by Electro-Catalytic Systems Midterm Activity (PDF 731KB)
This report details progress towards its aim of developing high-performance electrodes, based on natural mechanisms, to improve the efficiency of electrolysis.
Many non fossil-fuel energy production methods (solar, wind etc.) yield electricity – but it is fundamentally intermittent. Hydrogen is recognised as the ideal clean, high capacity, chemical medium for storage of energy from non-constant sources, to achieve stable energy continuity. Electrolytic hydrogen generation, using cheap and abundant inputs (sunlight and water) is the preferred approach, if the process can be made sufficiently economical and energy efficient.
Electrolysis of water involves passing an electric current through water (H2O) solution, by means of two electrodes. The positive electrode generates oxygen (O2) and the negative electrode generates hydrogen (H2). The process is long known, but presently suffers from two major difficulties:-
i) Extreme solution conditions (Highly alkaline or acid) are required for reasonable efficiency, without use of expensive, exotic (platinum etc.) electrode materials.
ii) Significant energy is wasted in bubble formation at the two electrode surfaces, and the gases must further be separated from solution