Although hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the universe, it only exists combined with other elements, for example in water (H2O).
Not only does it have to be extracted using energy-intensive processes, 98 per cent of hydrogen produced today is extracted from fossil fuels. All this results in a large carbon footprint.
Green hydrogen, which uses renewable electricity to power electrolysis, most commonly splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. It costs about 30 per cent more than regular hydrogen and currently only has about a 0.3 per cent market share.
However, a new Australian discovery could be about to change this.
Researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University have discovered a way to greatly boost green hydrogen production. By using high-frequency vibrations to “divide and conquer” individual water molecules during electrolysis, the team managed to release 14 times more hydrogen while using 27 per cent less energy.
RMIT School of Engineering associate professor Amgad Rezk said: “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.”
A provisional patent has been filed to protect the new technology.