Make Hydrogen Happen

March 18, 2019

Stanford researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawater

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen presents an alternative to fossil fuels, but purified water is a precious resource. A Stanford-led team has now developed a way to harness seawater – Earth’s most abundant source – for chemical energy.

Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay.

Hongjie Dai and his research lab at Stanford University have developed a prototype that can generate hydrogen fuel from seawater. (Image credit: Courtesy of H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney)

The findings, published March 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate a new way of separating hydrogen and oxygen gas from seawater via electricity. Existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce.

Theoretically, to power cities and cars, “you need so much hydrogen it is not conceivable to use purified water,” said Hongjie Dai, J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood professor in chemistry in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and co-senior author on the paper. “We barely have enough water for our current needs in California.”

[Read more on the Standford News website]