September 23, 2019
Technology

Scientists can now turn regular seawater into hydrogen fuel

engadget: A team of scientists at Stanford have figured out a way to make hydrogen fuel out of saltwater. The discovery could open up the world’s oceans as a potential source of energy. Researchers view electrolysis, or the act of splitting water into hydrogen and gas, as a promising new source of renewable energy. But it comes with many roadblocks; a major one being that only purified water can be used in electrolysis. Seawater tends to corrode water-splitting systems.

Unfortunately, purified water is in itself a scarce resource. Which is why Stanford chemistry professor Hongjie Dai and her team sought out to discover a way to keep salt water from breaking down devices used for water-splitting. “We barely have enough water for our current needs in California,” said Dai in a press release.

The Stanford team layered nickel-iron hydroxide and nickel sulfide on top of a nickel foam core, essentially creating a barrier that would slow down the decay of the underlying metal. By acting as a conductor, the nickel foam transports energy from the power source and the nickel-iron hydroxide sparks the electrolysis. What happens without the nickel coating? The water-splitting device lasts roughly 12 hours, unable to withstand seawater corrosion. But with the nickel layer, the device can keep going for more than a thousand hours.

We’re still far away from harnessing ocean water as a new renewable energy source. The new discovery hasn’t been attempted outside of Stanford’s research labs. But scientists are hoping it will pave the way for increased use of hydrogen fuel.

Source: Published by engadget

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