An international research team from Umeå University has invented a system for large scale hydrogen production that is both cheap to manufacture, function in a stable manner and can be powered by renewable energy. The results have been published in prestigious Scientific Reports, published by Springer Nature.
Hydrogen, and fuel cells fueled by hydrogen, were discussed in the early 2000s as the energy carrier that would be crucial in the phasing out of fossil fuels and their source of climate change. Although huge sums were invested in developing hydrogen production and storage systems, you gradually realized that the challenge of finding a sustainable way of producing and using hydrogen on a renewable road was greater than you imagined.
The researchers from Sweden, Finland and Vietnam have now succeeded in making a catalyst based on columns of melamine material commercially available at an affordable price; And to add a form of the naturally occurring metal cobalt, in a three-dimensional structure that stably acts electrodes in technology systems that simply share water to its constituents.
Water is known as the elements of oxygen and hydrogen. Both are energy-rich and have major applications. If one succeeds in creating a system that is cost-effective and continuously capable of producing large amounts of hydrogen, it can be used, for example, in the production of fuels such as diesel and aircraft fuel, via known intermediate stages that are also used in the production of fossil-based hydrocarbons.
The system we have developed is robust, scalable and inexpensive. An additional big advantage is that we use alkaline saline solution. In principle, these systems could be operated with saltwater from the sea, says Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Professor at Umeå University, and a leading figure in the Bio4Energy research environment.
In their laboratory experiments, scientists have used pyrolysis, a form of high temperature treatment, to initiate the reaction that the catalyst then hurries and which causes the water splash, called the electrolysis in the trade language, to occur. In future industrial conditions, instead of using solar energy or another renewable energy source, it will provide the electrical impulse needed to drive the reaction.
This is a system that generates hydrogen and oxygen. Pure oxygen is explosive and very energy-efficient. Väteär a very versatile resource. You can burn it directly to energy. Then you can reduce materials, for example in the steel industry of the future. Today, you pump a lot of cox into the blast furnace (to convert iron to steel, reds. Note.). At that time, carbon dioxide is formed. Instead, you should, in principle, be able to feed hydrogen as a reducing agent, and then no carbon dioxide will form. In today's situation, it is not realistic because hydrogen is much more expensive and made of fossil natural gas, "says Jyri-Pekka Mikkola.
Bio4Energy is a strong research environment in bioenergy and bio refinery. The environment includes Umeå University, Sweden's Agricultural University in Umeå and Luleå University of Technology, research institutes and a comprehensive industrial network.