Australian Researchers Create Green Hydrogen from Solar Energy and Air

The system draws water from the air and runs it through electrolysis using solar power

September 14, 2020


A research team from Newcastle University in New South Wales, Australia, has devised a system that uses solar power to conduct electrolysis on water harvested from air to create hydrogen, a low-cost zero-emission fuel.

The new technology pioneered by Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and his team eliminates critical challenges in the production of hydrogen fuel.

The team used Professor Moghtaderi’s ‘hydro harvester’ to draw pure water from the air, which was then put through electrolysis. The power needed for the electrolysis was generated using solar panels. The process splits water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen; the hydrogen is then stored for later use as fuel.

The professor states that technology will not affect potable water, which is a highly sought-after resource in an arid country like Australia. More importantly, the hydro harvester produces pure water directly from the air, which, unlike seawater, wastewater, or even tap water, doesn’t need to undergo multiple stages of treatment and saves production costs.

According to Professor Moghtaderi, a pilot project based in the university’s s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) could rapidly boost domestic hydrogen production capabilities.

Currently, the system devised by the research team can produce one kg hydrogen in a day, but once commercialized, the production can be upscaled to 1,000 kgs per day.

The research team has also partnered with Southern Green Gas and is developing ways to combine green hydrogen with carbon dioxide as a means to transport hydrogen easily. According to the professor combining hydrogen and CO2 will create renewable methane, which can be transported across great distances using existing gas pipelines.

Professor Moghtaderi will also be at the helm of the $4.9 million program- Australian Research Council training center for the ‘global hydrogen economy.’ The five-year plan will locally generate new technologies and equip a workforce of industry-focused engineers with advanced skills for the development and scaling-up of hydrogen generation and transport.

Mercom had earlier reported that researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Science have claimed that they had created an efficient and cost-effective palladium-based catalyst that can be used for electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen.

In May 2020, Researchers at Rice University in the United States of America announced a low-cost device that can split water to produce hydrogen fuel.

The Indian government is currently mulling a plan to invite bids for an innovative program that would involve generating solar power, which would then be used to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen produced would then power a city’s public transport. Union Power Minister R.K. Singh noted that the only requirement of the bid would be that the per kilometer cost of the transportation should be less than diesel-driven buses.


Image credit: Newcastle University