T he reality of being able to make cheap, ‘green’ hydrogen is a step closer, thanks to some great research. Scientists at Victoria’s Monash University say they have taken a leap forward to create a process to make it happen. It will be able to gain off Aussie's huge renewable energy stocks to make a low cost power resource.
The race is on for Australia to make a shift to renewables that is viable for our future. The work that the team at Monash is doing is critically important to that end. ARENA gave them $22M in late 2018 to explore and develop this process and it seems to be paying off. The actual process is based on water splitting tech that will be highly stable, and make a lot of gas.
The view for quite a while is that hydrogen is vital to Aussie’s shift to a low carbon generating model. The uses for hydrogen are in fact huge, right across the board.
The issue has been able to make it cheap enough, and to move it around to where they need it. This is still the case, but steps like this encourage hope. Those in the know say that water splitting like this, using electrolysis, is the best way to make it .Dr Alexandr Simonov of the Monash School of Chemistry said that so far, iridium oxide has the best results. But it’s rare and costs a fortune. It’s also quite unstable too.
In fact, this process of water splitting uses acidic electrolytes. That in itself has problems being what acid is, and what it does to things, but it can be overcome. So what the team has been able to do so far, is to create a ‘self healing’ catalytic system. Its apparently quite stable and uses cheap and plentiful elements. So far it works well in strong acid, and can handle the heat generated by the process.
Dr Simonov says that this will be the future of “green” hydrogen. He said that the acid corrodes even the most resistant metals we have now. So to be able to come up with a viable solution like this is big. Like most things, energy of whatever type needs to moved around efficiently, so hydrogen is no different. This will be part of the challenge too, to create a low cost energy carrier for hydrogen.
There are still some limitations to the process, but they are working to have something worked out soon.