IIT-Madras develops an eco-friendly method to produce hydrogen fuel from seawater

The researchers want to utilize it to generate fuel production with the push of a button.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have developed a technology that can be used to generate hydrogen fuel from seawater and using this technology as described in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, hydrogen can be produced on-demand at the point of use and hence it need not be stored. This overcomes the storage-related challenges associated with hydrogen as its highly inflammable and may cause an explosion, the researchers said.

Combustion of hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide thereby making it a ‘clean’ source of energy. Hence, Hydrogen can be a good source of energy for the future. The researchers are also targeting running cars and bikes by seawater using hydrogen power.

“As the hydrogen can be produced at the point of use on-demand, safety issues associated with the storage and transportation of hydrogen is avoided. The solid starting materials can be transported from one place to another place very conveniently. This bypasses the transportation bottleneck associated with the hydrogen sector,” said Abdul Malek from the Department of Chemistry at IIT Madras.

The researchers noted that hydrogen is produced at a tunable rate without heat, electricity or sunlight. The starting materials are all eco-friendly. The process is amenable to all scales of production that are relevant for the hydrogen economy- hence sectors such as automotive, aviation, etc. would benefit from this technology, they said.

“Hydrogen is the future. We want to make it ‘the present’. I am waiting for the day when our invention will fuel the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) rockets or Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) missiles. The researchers, including Tiju Thomas, Associate Professor at IIT Madras, said they are on the way to customize and design a proper hydrogen system for vehicles. “We are looking forward to delivering solutions for the global energy sector,” Malek said.

This technology is developed to generate hydrogen from any source of water. As seawater covers two-thirds of the surface of the Earth, the researchers want to utilize it to generate fuel production with the push of a button, which adds water from one compartment to the other.

“The water addition rate can control the amount of hydrogen produced and flow depending on the requirement. The technical details are patent protected,” Malek said.


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