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How to make hydrogen from humid air

Electrolyzer filters water components even in dry environments

GUO, J. et al. Nature Communications. 2022

Scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia, the Ganjiang Innovation Academy and the Ningbo Institute in China, and the University of Manchester, UK, have developed a prototype electrolyzer that produces hydrogen from air instead of directly from water. The device uses a 14-millimeter piece of porous glass foam soaked in sulfuric acid to capture water from the air; the liquid then runs off to the electrodes, which separate it into oxygen and hydrogen. Based on a technique known to experts as direct air electrolysis, the device functioned with an efficiency close to 95% for 12 consecutive days, powered by solar and wind energy, and can even operate in dry environments with a humidity of just 4%. It was developed with the aim of eliminating the limitations of other methods of hydrogen extraction, which produce unwanted chemical compounds, result in low-purity hydrogen, are inefficient, or require an extra step to separate the components of the water (Nature Communications, September 6).