A group of researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have just announced new findings: they have found a method of electrolysis without electricity, which produces hydrogen and oxygen using only microwaves, does not need any wires or directly interact with the electrode. This discovery could radically change energy research, and has the potential to be a key to the opportunity to eliminate carbon emissions from industrial production lines. The new research has been published in a prestigious scientific journal Nature.
The technology developed by UPV and CSIC is based on the effect of dissolving solid materials of microwaves, specifically in this experiment, the team used cerium oxide as an intermediate allowing the microwaves to exert their effects. . The new method allows scientists to produce electrolysis results without the need for electrodes. In addition to simplifying the process as well as reducing costs, the microwave method allows the device to perform the reaction more flexibly and easily to control.
“This technology has great potential for applications, especially in energy storage, in the production of synthetic fuels and chemicals that do not harm the environment. These aspects are important for the time being, as both the transportation industry and industries are trying to reduce emissions and electrify manufacturing.“, Professor José Manuel Serra from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ) emphasized.
Clean hydrogen is used in industrial and transportation industries
Aqueous solution will have 2 parts hydrogen per part oxygen. Separating these two substances from water, we will have an abundant source of hydrogen and oxygen.
According to the researchers, the main effect of the new technology is to produce clean hydrogen from water, for use in industry and transportation. As the group pointed out, vehicles that do not use fossil fuels will greatly benefit from the new technology, including asphalt cars and outgoing ships and cargo ships. Besides, the chemistry, metallurgy or pottery industry will also directly benefit from the new chemical synthesis method.
“This approach can turn renewable electrical energy, which would normally come from solar or wind power systems, into profitable products and clean fuels. It has great application potential and we expect to see new benefits in the energy storage and chemical processing industries soon.“, Professor José Manuel Catalá said.
In the study published in Nature, the team of scientists offers both a study of the correlation between technological and economic factors, showing how the new method will be more efficient than before, with grounds Hydrogen production has construction costs competitive with the technology we currently have.
This is how they achieve breakthroughs
Unlike conventional electrolysis that requires electrodes, the new method requires only a microwave-generating device.
They observed that ionic materials change properties when interacting with microwaves, especially the material’s ability to conduct electrons – which does not occur when the material is heated in the usual way. “We are curious about the sudden changes in the electrical properties of matter, wanting to understand how this process works. For that reason, the team will continue to experiment, with new microwave-generating reactors and other data analysis techniques.“, Professor Catalá cheerfully said.
They confirmed that interactions between the microwave and the material affect the electrons, pushing oxygen out of the material’s chemical structure. “At first glance, we realize the potential applications of new discoveries, especially as humanity sets the goal of eliminating greenhouse gases within just the next two decades.“, Professor Serra concluded.
From super fast rechargeable batteries to space travel
Teams from UPV and CSIS are exploring future applications of the new technology, they are currently focusing on super-fast rechargeable batteries. According to Professor Catalá, the new charging method they suggest can fill the battery in seconds.
Another application would be to microwave oxygen, which immediately opens up new possibilities. Imagine bases for the Moon, Mars, and other planets further afield with oxygen-generating systems that do not require photosynthesis.