Researchers see 14-fold improvement in hydrogen production by adding soundwaves to electrolysis


An RMIT University team that has developed a new technique using sound waves to greatly boost the output of hydrogen from electrolysers is currently seeking industry partners to scale up the invention.

According to a statement from the university on Tuesday, the researchers had achieved a 14-fold improvement in hydrogen production through electrolysis. 

The sound waves in combination with electric water splitting were described as being able to better “divide and conquer” individual hydrogen molecules to turn them into hydrogen and oxygen.

One improvement cited was preventing a build up of hydrogen and oxygen bubbles on electrodes

“Electrode materials used in electrolysis suffer from hydrogen and oxygen gas build-up, forming a gas layer that minimises the electrodes’ activity and significantly reduces its performance,” explained first author Yemima Ehrnst, a PhD candidate.

“The electrical output of the electrolysis with sound waves was about 14 times greater than electrolysis without them, for a given input voltage. This was equivalent to the amount of hydrogen produced.”

The research was published in Advanced Energy Materials, and a provisional Australian patent application has been made. Their paper, Acoustically-Induced Water Frustration for Enhanced Hydrogen Evolution Reaction in Neutral Electrolytes, is linked.

Associate Professor Amgad Rezk, the research lead and a Senior Lecturer in chemistry at RMIT, said the work also addressed the high costs of electrodes made of materials such as iridium and platinum.

“With sound waves making it much easier to extract hydrogen from water, it eliminates the need to use corrosive electrolytes and expensive electrodes such as platinum or iridium,” he said.

“As water is not a corrosive electrolyte, we can use much cheaper electrode materials such as silver.”

Picture: Ehrnst holding the acoustic device the research team used. (Credit RMIT University)


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