Developing ultra-green hydrogen technologies

Clean hydrogen production offers Australia an opportunity to transition from a carbon-intensive economy to low carbon economy. The electrolysis of water to generate hydrogen is also an attractive storage technology, especially for renewable energy. Currently, about 50% of the world’s hydrogen is produced by the steam methane reforming (SMR) process where natural gas is reacted with steam to form carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In contrast, electrolysis uses electricity to split water using the following reaction: 

2H2O →O2+2H2        

One key issue with the production of hydrogen, using both the steam methane reforming process and freshwater electrolysis, is the amount of water that needs to be consumed. Both SMR and electrolysis are water-intensive processes.

For Australia, seawater is an abundant feedstock for the electrolytic water-splitting process; however, there are challenges associated with the seawater electrolysis, especially the production of chlorine gas. Recent advances in electrocatalyst development involving multilayer nickel-sulphide-iron anodic electrodes have overcome these limitations, thus affording sustainable hydrogen production in laboratory-scale systems. 

One of the exciting developments associated with electrolytic hydrogen from seawater is the coupling of it with carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies. During the production of hydrogen from seawater proton and hydroxyl ions are produced. These ions can be used to capture carbon dioxide when powdered silicate and carbonate minerals are added to the electrolysis cell.

This project will explore electrolytic hydrogen production from seawater coupled with the enhanced weathering of silicate and carbonate minerals for carbon dioxide capture.