While we are still developing the advancements in hydrogen to reduce the cost of transportation and storage, there are many breakthroughs happening around the world in both technology and uses for hydrogen. One major focus of the international community has been embracing and improving “green hydrogen” technologies, which would drastically reduce the global CO2 emissions and limit global warming. “Green hydrogen” is typically produced from oxygen using renewable sources of energy, with its only waste product being water. This makes it a perfect alternative to fossil fuels for everything from powering vehicles to revolutionizing the steel industry.
Let’s take a quick tour to see the latest breakthroughs in hydrogen around the world:
Researchers at Rice University in Texas have created a device nicknamed “the artificial leaf” capable of splitting water molecules to produce hydrogen fuel at a low cost. Scientists use a combination of catalytic electrodes and perovskite solar cells that produce electricity when triggered by sunlight. Perovskites are crystals with unique cubelike lattices known for harvesting light well. The charge then flows to catalysts that break down water into hydrogen and oxygen with an impressive sunlight-to-hydrogen efficiency of around 6.7%.
A breakthrough in hydrogen technology at Northwestern University in Chicago could greatly reduce the cost of making hydrogen-powered vehicles by changing the way hydrogen fuel is stored. The technology, dubbed the “bath sponge,” is able to hold and release large amounts of hydrogen at a lower pressure with a cost that is similar to an actual sponge.
Australian researchers from Griffith University have found a way to enhance clean hydrogen electrolysis using ‘nanobelts’ to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. This breakthrough in technology uses two different processes to harness the nanobelts and push them to their limits during the oxidation of water.
Two firms in Sweden are working together to try and make the steel industry a little bit more sustainable by using hydrogen to heat steel. According to the World Steel Association, about 1.85 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted for each metric ton of steel produced on average. Currently, the steel sector uses coal for 75% of their energy demand.
German company Graforce is developing a technology that could produce green hydrogen and renewable energy from animal and human excrement. This unique technology, known as “plasmalysis,” is not only carbon dioxide free, but also much more affordable than any other process being used today.
Bioenergetics researchers at the University of Kiel, inspired by naturally-occurring photosynthesis, are looking into modifying the carbon cycle to produce and store green hydrogen in a way that preserves energy and reduces resulting CO2 emissions.
It is estimated that by the end of 2024, around 960 tons of green hydrogen will be produced, reducing an estimated 8,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. To keep up with this goal, ENGIE, in accordance with the European Horizon 2020 program, and the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA), will be joining together for the “Multiplhy” project. The goal of Multiplhy is to produce green hydrogen using high temperature electrolysis. The high temperature electrolyser is being built in the Neste biorefinery in Rotterdam and will have a nominal power of 2.6 MW with a hydrogen production capacity of 60 kg / h. The device is able to produce hydrogen from water in the form of vapor instead of liquid water with an efficiency of at least 20% higher than that of a low temperature electrolyser.
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