Gallery: Australian Scientists Develop Catalyst to Turn Seawater Into H...


A team of scientists from Australia’s University of Wollongong have developed a way to turn sea water into hydrogen in order to produce a virtually unlimited clean energy source. They believe that their system would allow five liters of sea water to produce enough hydrogen to power an average-sized home and an electric car for one day.

The team, based at Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), say they have developed a light-assisted catalyst that requires less energy input to activate water oxidation. This, they say, is the first step in splitting water to produce hydrogen fuel.

When it comes to the production of hydrogen fuel, the major limitation with current technologies is that the oxidation process needs a higher energy input than the resultant energy from the process. Also using abundant sea water has a drawback, because it produces poisonous chlorine gas.

However the team, led by Associate Professor Jun Chen and Professor Gerry Swiegers, have produced an artificial chlorophyll on a conductive plastic film that acts as a catalyst to begin splitting water.

Speaking in the journal Chemical Science, Professor Jun Chen said that the flexible polymer would enable a wider range of applications to be more easily created than metal semiconductors.

“The system we designed, including the materials, gives us the opportunity to design various devices and applications using sea water as a water-splitting source,” he said. “The flexible nature of the material also provides the possibility to build portable hydrogen-producing devices.”

ACES Executive Research Director Professor Gordon Wallace agreed with his colleague saying: “In today’s world the discovery of high performance materials is not enough. This must be coupled with innovative fabrication to provide practical high-performance devices and this work is an excellent example of that.”

+ University of Wollongong


Images © Alarna Rose Gray and University of Wollongong


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  1. audischwaaa October 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    hydrogen fanatic, yes it is a con, as the article above states without the use of a catalyst it takes more energy in than what you get out. it is just simple physics. eventually this might be a viable method of hydrogen generation but not yet. the best way to produce hydrogen is using solar since it doesn’t deplete a finite resource.

  2. hydrogen fanatic August 11, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Since I’ve noticed a number of hydrogen generators selling over the web for their cars in preference to fossil fuels, is this a con just ripping off the consumers because I’ve learnt that liquid hydrogen is not only difficult to store but it’s not economical?

  3. Conrad Borovski July 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    The end of Big Oil?

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