With hydrogen fuel there are no carbon emissions. The only down side is that it uses water that we could be drinking instead. But now scientists have figured out a way to skip this costly water purification part of the process and convert seawater into usable hydrogen. This research is published in the journal PNAS.
The electrodes in water make it possible for the chemical reaction in which hydrogen is formed. When electricity is run through water it splits the hydrogen and oxygen, giving you a pure and zero-emission fuel source.
Seawater contains a positive electrode that attracts chloride, quickly decaying the metal. To tackle this problem, the scientists added a new metal coating so the electrode can last longer. The team was able to use 10 times more electricity with its device, generating hydrogen even faster than before. As a bonus, they made their design environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and powered it with solar cells.
The good thing about fuel cells is that it could store more energy than batteries while avoiding some of their environmental challenges.
"Hydrogen is the next generation of power because the energy density is higher than batteries, meaning that you can drive for a longer distance, or power heavier devices." explains Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford University.
- Hydrogen-powered cars are already on the roads around the world
- A hydrogen-powered train is now running in Germany
- A hydrogen-powered ferry is coming to San Francisco this year
- Hydrogen-powered cargo ships are currently being designed in Norway
- The first regional hydrogen-electric airplane is being developed by a startup in Singapore
In the future, ships running on hydrogen fuel cells will be able to make their own fuel directly from the ocean with the help of renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines.