Indian Researchers Claim Electrolysis Breakthrough

Lower voltage required to electrically split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Published: 24-Mar-2004

Prof R. P. Viswanath and his research group of the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Madras has been trying to look into problem of water electrolysis and using a compartmentalized electrolytic cell they have been successful to split water into hydrogen and oxygen at a relatively much lower potential of around 0.90 V compared to 1.23V.

The theoretical minimum decomposition potential to split water into the elements hydrogen and oxygen requires a potential of 1.23 V. But due to various reasons a higher potential is necessary to generate hydrogen from water.

The energy required to produce hydrogen by electrolysis is about 32.9 kW-hr/kg. A kilogram is about 2.2 lb. For 1 mole (2 g) of hydrogen the energy is about 0.0660 kW-hr / mole. For commercial electrolysis systems that operate at about 1 A/cm2, a voltage of 1.75 V is required. This translates into about 46.8 kW-hr / kg, which corresponds to an energy efficiency of 70%. Lowering the voltage for electrolysis, which will increase the energy efficiency of the process, is an important area for research. Intense research persists to better understand ways to improve these hydrogen production methods.

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