Scientists edge closer to stable, cheap green hydrogen production

The inexpensive industrial production of green hydrogen from Australia’s abundant renewable energy generation resources has edged closer to reality, after a breakthrough by scientists at Victoria’s Monash University.

The “critically important” research identifies a variation on water splitting technology, or water electrolysis, which is most likely to be the future of the green hydrogen production, but so far the technology remains costly and unstable.

The problem thus far, explains Monash School of Chemistry’s Dr Alexandr Simonov, is that the conditions at the anodes of such devices are extremely harsh, making even highly stable noble metals corrode.

“Our research team has introduced an intrinsically stable, ‘self-healing’ catalytic system based on earth abundant elements to promote the water electrolysis process in a strongly acidic environment and elevated temperatures,” Dr Simonov said in comments this week.

“The catalyst demonstrates the state-of-the-art activity, and most importantly, exhibits unparalleled stability under a wide range of aggressive, technologically relevant conditions of water splitting.

“The outstanding stability in the operation and the low cost of the developed catalytic system identifies it as a potentially suitable option for use in the industrial production of green hydrogen fuel by water electrolysis.

“Given the very high performance we’ve achieved (in the lab),  it is promising,” Dr Simonov told RE. “The material is exceptionally robust in contrast to everything that has been demonstrated before. …It has limitations, but they can be solved, and we are working on this.”