A revolutionary breakthrough in green hydrogen production could change the course of the whole industry. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) have found a method to produce green hydrogen at room temperature using unique aluminum nanoparticles that react with water.
This method eliminates the need for high energy input from renewable electricity that is usually used to break the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
Scientists have been familiar for years with the capability of aluminum water to generate zero-emissions hydrogen. Researchers have been attempting to find efficient and cost-effective ways to use aluminum’s water reactivity to produce the fuel.
However, scientists at UCSC have demonstrated an easily produced composite of gallium and aluminum that creates aluminum nanoparticles which react rapidly with water at room temperature to yield large amounts of hydrogen.
“We don’t need any energy input, and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said UCSC Chemistry Professor Scott Oliver.
The unique discovery of the team is that when the concentration of the gallium in the composite of gallium and aluminum is increased, it also increases the production of hydrogen.
What’s more, for the composite, easily accessible aluminum resources can be used like foil or cans.
A downside for the method is that gallium is still an expensive metal but it can be recovered from the process and reused multiple times.
It remains to be seen whether the UCSC team can scale the green hydrogen production method commercially. To reach large-scale production, UCSC could license the technology to an industry player who has the financial resources to take it globally. A US patent application is currently pending on this technology.
Converting water into hydrogen at room temperatures decreases the barriers for entry of green hydrogen to become a globally used energy resource and lead the green economy transition.
If future development of this approach is continuous, the world could be using a new method soon to produce the green fuel and make the needed dent in the significant carbon dioxide emissions. The approach could also eliminate the need for high energy input which can only be good news for the development of the green hydrogen industry.