Green Hydrogen innovation converts water to energy at room temperature

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Scientists have discovered a new method for producing hydrogen gas from water at room temperature, which could be a step toward a clean and renewable energy source.

Hydrogen has been studied for years as a fuel or energy source. The modern hydrogen fuel cell, which can power everything from laptop computers to automobile batteries and power plants, generates water, energy, and a little amount of heat by mixing hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

End of October 2021, hydrogen fuel cell power plants in the United States produced approximately 260 megawatts of energy capacity. In 2020, the average wind turbine produced approximately 2.75 megawatts.

Hydrogen has been heralded as a green energy alternative despite its comparatively low adoption rate. However, this is not the situation today.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, yet it must be manufactured for use in fuel cells. The problem is that, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, around 95 percent of hydrogen is produced from a process utilizing natural gas, and this process is not renewable.

However, there may be a solution to this particular issue. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) have developed a specific sort of aluminum composite that combines with water at room temperature in order to make hydrogen.

Alone, aluminum is a reactive substance that separates oxygen from water molecules to produce hydrogen gas.

However, aluminum will not necessarily accomplish this on its own. This is because the metal creates a coating of aluminum oxide at ambient temperature, which prevents it from interacting with water.

Scientists have discovered that by utilizing a composite of gallium and aluminum that is simple to create, it is possible to get this material to react with water at room temperature and generate hydrogen.

Scott Oliver, a UCSC chemistry professor, stated in a university press release, “We require no energy input, and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy.” “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

It has been known for decades that this aluminum-gallium combo creates hydrogen. However, the UCSC team discovered that raising the gallium concentration in the composite also increased hydrogen production.

Oliver explained, “Our process employs a little amount of aluminum, ensuring that it all dissolves into the majority gallium as distinct nanoparticles.”

Furthermore, the composite may be manufactured using readily available aluminum materials such as foil and cans.

The disadvantage is that gallium is rather expensive, while being recoverable and reusable several times. Additionally, there is still no broad adoption of hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen can be burned directly as a fuel, but it is toxic and tanks must be often compressed to contain useable quantities.

Nedim Husomanovic

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