Researchers Develop New Technology that Improves Hydrogen Manufacturing

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Researchers demonstrated high-performance electrochemical hydrogen production at a lower temperature, according to a study published on September 4, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory. This study talks about producing hydrogen more efficiently. The researchers demonstrated high-performance electrochemical hydrogen production at a lower temperature. This was possible by using a ceramic steam electrode that is capable of self-assembling from a woven mat.

Dr. Dong Ding said, “We invented a 3D self-assembled steam electrode which can be scalable. The ultrahigh porosity and the 3D structure can make the mass/charge transfer much better, so the performance was better.” The design, fabrication, and characterization of highly efficient proton-conducting solid oxide electrolysis cells (P-SOECs) with a novel 3D self-assembled steam electrode were reported by the researchers. During testing, the cells that operated below 600o C produced hydrogen at a high sustained rate continuously for days.

A P-SOEC has a porous steam electrode, a hydrogen electrode, and a proton-conducting electrolyte. On applying voltage, steam travels through the porous steam electrode and turns into oxygen and hydrogen at the electrolyte boundary. The two gases separate due to different charges and are collected at their respective electrodes.

Researchers used an innovative way to make the porous steam electrode, as the construction of it is critical. They started with a woven textile template, put it into a precursor solution containing elements they wanted to use, and then fired it to remove the fabric and leave behind the ceramic. The result was a ceramic version of the original textile. The ceramic textile was put in the electrode. The electrode and the use of proton conduction enabled high hydrogen production below 600o C. The lower temperature makes the hydrogen production process more durable, and also requires fewer costly, heat-resistant materials in the electrolysis cell.

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