New Hydrogen-producing method shows energy-efficient route to manufacture fuel- All you need to know

A team of researchers from IIT Bombay has come up with an innovative hydrogen manufacturing route that can increase its production three times and lower the energy required.

Created On: Aug 5, 2021 18:12 IST
New Hydrogen production system
New Hydrogen production system

The Department of Science and Technology informed on August 4, 2021, that researchers in India have come up with an innovative hydrogen manufacturing route that can increase its production three times and lower the energy required. It can pave the way towards environment-friendly hydrogen fuel at a lower cost.

Hydrogen, as a fuel, has a critical role to play in driving the paradigm shifts towards sustainable and green energy.

In addition to having about three-fold higher calorific value in comparison to the non-renewable energy sources such as gasoline and coal, the combustion of hydrogen to release energy produces water and thus, is completely non-polluting.

Transition to Green-Hydrogen-economy:

Because of the extremely low abundance of molecule hydrogen in the Earth’s atmosphere, electrified-field driven breakdown of water is an attractive route for the production of hydrogen.

But such electrolysis requires high energy input and is associated with the slow rate of hydrogen production. Simultaneously, the use of expensive platinum and iridium-based catalysts also discourages it for widespread commercialization.

Therefore, the transition to ‘green-hydrogen-economy’ demands approaches that lower the energy, as well as material costs and also, improves the hydrogen production rate.

New Hydrogen-producing method: What is it?

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, led by C Subramaniam, have come up with an innovative way that will provide a viable solution to the mentioned challenges.

The method involves the electrolysis of water in the presence of an external magnetic field. Under this, the same system that produces 1ml of hydrogen gas required 19% low energy to produce 3ml of hydrogen at the same time. This is achieved by synergistically coupling the magnetic and electric fields at the catalytic site.

The simple approach by the researchers also provides the capability to retrofit any existing electrolysed (that uses electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen) with external magnets without any drastic changes in the design, leading to the increased energy efficiency of hydrogen production.

Significance

The electrocatalytic material- cobalt-oxide nanocubes that are dispersed over the hard-carbon-based nanostructured carbon florets- is of prime importance in order to achieve this effect.

The interface between the carbon and the cobalt oxide is key to magneto-electrocatalysis.

It will be advantageous as it will form a system that will not require the constant presence of the external magnetic field and is able to sustain the magnetization for prolonged time periods.

This route can be directly adopted in the existing electrolysers without any form of change in designs or the mode of operation. One-time exposure of the magnetic field for 10 minutes is enough to achieve a high rate of oxygen production for over 45 minutes.

According to Dr. Subramaniam, the intermittent use of an external magnetic field provides a new direction for achieving energy-efficient hydrogen generation. Other catalysts can also be explored for the same purpose.

He further added that given the importance of a hydrogen-based economy, the aim is to implement the project in a mission mode and realize an indigenous magneto-electrolytic hydrogen generator.

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