The dream of the scientific community of obtaining hydrogen from water is today increasingly close to becoming a reality, which would leave behind the use of natural gas in this process.
According to a study published by the journal Science Advances, it is a procedure called the water-gas exchange reaction in which carbon monoxide and steam react using a different catalyst, producing additional carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
In the last step, pressure swing adsorption, carbon dioxide and other impurities are removed, leaving behind pure hydrogen. The study points out that “compared to reforming natural gas, the use of electricity from renewable sources to divide water into hydrogen is cleaner and more sustainable.”
Complex chemical procedure
The researchers explained that the half-reaction of one of the two parts of a redox reaction, or reduction-oxidation, occurs, in which electrons are transferred between two reactants; reduction refers to the obtaining of electrons, oxidation means the loss of electrons.
Electrocatalysts are essential to promote the water splitting reaction by reducing overpotential. One hurdle in the study is the lack of information on the evolutionary structure of electrocatalysts during electrochemical operations, the research notes.
Hydrogen is found in a wide range of compounds on Earth, most commonly combining with oxygen to make water. It also has many scientific, industrial and energy-related functions. Likewise, it also comes in the form of hydrocarbons, compounds made up of hydrogen and carbon such as methane, the main element in natural gas.
The production of hydrogen is important for many aspects of human life, an example of this is the manufacture of many useful chemicals such as ammonia, the refining of metals and the manufacture of artificial materials such as plastic.