Researchers in Australia have made a breakthrough in the production of green hydrogen by successfully splitting seawater without the need for pre-treatment.
An international chemical engineering team, led by Professor Shizhang Qiao and Associate Professor Yao Zheng from the University of Adelaide, used a cheap, non-precious catalyst in a commercial electrolyzer to split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with almost 100% efficiency.
The seawater was used as a feedstock without the need for reverse osmosis desalination, purification, or alkalization processes. The team’s seawater with catalysts of cobalt oxide and chromium oxide performed almost as well as expensive platinum/iridium catalysts in highly purified deionized water.
As hydrogen demand increases, seawater electrolysis is expected to be practical in regions with abundant sunlight and long coastlines. The team will work on scaling up the system for commercial processes such as hydrogen generation for fuel cells and ammonia synthesis.