Researchers have succeeded in producing hydrogen directly from seawater
In Australia, researchers have succeeded in producing hydrogen directly from seawater. For this, they used a new catalyst material that is much more resistant to saltwater than conventionally used media. Scientists at the University of Adelaide, Nankai University and Kent State University coated the electrodes consisting of cobalt oxide with a low-cost Lewis acid layer, which then withstood aggressive attacks by the salt for a sufficiently long time. Instead of iron(III) chloride, boron trifluoride and CO2, they decided on chromium(III) oxide (Cr2O3) – a widely used coating material for applications especially in the printing and paper industry, the pump and textile industry and for mechanical sealing systems.
Shizhang Qiao, chemical engineer at the University of Adelaide, has explained: “We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 percent efficiency, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyzer.” If, in contrast, freshwater is used in conventional electrolyzers with their far more expensive catalysts made of platinum and iridium, hardly any less hydrogen is produced, expressed Yao Zheng, an assistant professor in materials science.