South Korean researchers have found a way to produce hydrogen more cheaply using materials for the electrolysis process that cost a lot less than the standard material, platinum.
If hydrogen is the fuel of the future, because it’s eco-friendly, then this could make it more economical too. Jeong Eun-joo explains.
Scientists “carbonize” a piece of fabric by burning it at over 900 degrees Celsius. This allows electricity to flow through.
When that burnt fabric is placed in a nickel metal solution and an electric current is applied, the metal layer bonds to the surface of the cloth. This process, called “electroplating,” transforms the fabric into a new material that reacts better.
“Carbonization usually occurs at 2-thousand degrees Celsius, but we carbonized the cloth at 950 degrees. This makes electroplating a large surface area possible.”
Bubbles form once this new material is put under water with an electric current flowing through it.
These bubbles are hydrogen, a type of “clean energy.” Oxygen is generated when a material that’s coated with iron and cobalt on top of the nickel has electricity put through it.
The new material produced 20 times more hydrogen compared to platinum, which is an efficient, but expensive electrode – an essential part of a battery.
“The material was able to operate stably even at a high current density because a secure bond with the metals was induced through the special surface treatment.”
This new electrode produced hydrogen even at low voltages showed stability and maintained metal adherence.
“This material demonstrates the possibility of replacing metal catalysts with non-metal catalysts. There has also never been a report of such a long and stable operation even at the high current density of 2-thousand milliamperes.”
This development means scientists can stably mass produce hydrogen using inexpensive materials.
The research results were also printed in the journal “Energy and Environment Science” published by the Royal Society of England, which recognizes and promotes excellence in science.