Electrolysis is gaining momentum as an option for carbon-free hydrogen production from both nuclear and renewable sources. Electrolysis works by harnessing electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen inside a unit called an electrolyzer. This article will outline the process of electrolysis, explain how it works, and touch on a few of its many applications.
What is Electrolysis?
The process of electrolysis causes ionic substances to decompose into its simpler constituents. This occurs when an electrical current is passed through an ionic substance. Not only does this process extract gases such as hydrogen, but it can also be used to extract and purify metals.
Electrolysis is fairly simple as it uses water, an electrolyzer, and a supply of electricity. If this electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, carbon emissions are very minimal.
Why Produce Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is the most efficient energy carrier and can be obtained from a range of sources of raw materials such as water. Traditionally, generating and transporting hydrogen is labor-intensive and costly. Large facilities are used to create atmospheric condensation and then it must be transported by highly pressurized cryogenic tanks.
The interest in hydrogen fuel has been increasing over the years, due to its abundance and environmental benefits. Distribution using LNG tankers is time-consuming and requires the use of specialized heavy-duty vehicles. Pumping the gas is also challenging because it has an extremely low weight.
Eco-friendly, high purity hydrogen can be obtained using water electrolysis, emitting only oxygen as byproducts and with no carbon emissions. The hydrogen and oxygen produced can then be used directly for industrial applications and fuel cells.
Replacing traditional techniques with newly developed electrolysis stations that create hydrogen from water vapor will help to overcome some of the current challenges. For example, hydrogen fuels could be produced at a local level, reducing costs and minimizing safety concerns. This would make hydrogen a more economically viable alternative to combustion fuels that create carbon dioxide.
What are the Benefits of Electrolysis?
Unlike other forms of hydrogen production, electrolysis can produce hydrogen without any greenhouse gas emissions. Most gas used currently is brown or grey, brown being created through the gasification of coal or lignite or grey if made through steam methane.
Blue hydrogen is produced by steam methane reformation; however, the emissions are minimized using carbon capture and storage. This means only half the amount of carbon is produced.
Enhancing Electrolysis Workflow
Hiden Analytical produces a broad variety of instruments for dissolved species analysis and mass spectrometry that can be used in electrolysis studies. Our instruments provide solutions to common hydrogen generation challenges and beyond.
Hiden supports the move to green hydrogen and we offer a range of precision products engineered to be used within the electrolysis workflow. Additionally, Hiden’s suite of software solutions can help to monitor changes in hydrogen evolution and link directly to electrical factors.