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Researchers develop 'green' method to extract hydrogen from seawater

Researchers at RIMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a way to extract hydrogen from seawater without desalination, and without harmful chlorine by-products. Photo by RIMIT University
Researchers at RIMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a way to extract hydrogen from seawater without desalination, and without harmful chlorine by-products. Photo by RIMIT University

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a new method to extract hydrogen from seawater without desalination. The advance could help simplify the process of obtaining hydrogen for renewable energy.

"Hydrogen is emerging as an alternative clean fuel; however, its dependance on freshwater will be a threat to a sustainable environment," researchers said in a paper detailing the new methodology.

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Seawater is far more abundant than freshwater, but the process of extracting hydrogen from it has a number of drawbacks.

Current methods for extraction hydrogen from seawater produce a large amount of chlorine as a by-product, and require significant energy consumption. The process developed by the Materials for Clean Energy and Environment research group at RIMIT University directly splits seawater into hydrogen and oxygen.

To overcome the problems associated with hydrogen extraction from seawater, researchers introduced "a unique catalyst composed of pours sheets of nitrogen-doped NiMo3P (N-NiMo3P)."

"The presence of metal-nitrogen bonds and surface polyanions increases the stability and improves anti-corrosive properties against chlorine chemistry," researchers said.

"Our process not only omits carbon dioxide, but also has no chlorine production," lead researcher Nasir Mahmoud said.

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"Almost all the world's hydrogen currently comes from fossil fuels, and its production is responsible for around 830 million ton of carbon dioxide a year," the team said in a statement.

"Emissions-free 'green' hydrogen, made by slitting water, is so expensive that it is generally unavailable commercially and accounts for just 1% of total hydrogen production globally," the statement said.

Researchers say the the process could greatly reduce the cost of hydrogen extraction, and they are preparing to develop prototypes of their electrolyzer.

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