Hydrogen Fuel
Hydrogen Fuel Advantages
Hydrogen Fuel Algae
Hydrogen Fuel Artificial Photosynthesis
Hydrogen Fuel Disadvantages
Hydrogen Fuel Electrolysis of Water
Hydrogen Fuel Natural Gas
Hydrogen Fuel Production
Hydrogen Fuel Renewable Energy
Hydrogen Fuel Sources


Hydrogen Fuel from the Electrolysis of Water

It is interesting to note that one of the most important substances to humans is also a source of a viable energy source in the form of hydrogen. Hydrogen itself is the most abundant element in the universe, and it can be separated from water via electrolysis and other processes.

hydrogen fuel from electrolysis
It is therefore probably no coincidence that the German word for hydrogen is "wasserstoff", which literally translates into "water stuff".

One of the most efficient means to produce hydrogen fuel from water is a process called electrolysis. This process basically involves passing an electric current through the water, which causes it to decompose into its component parts of oxygen and hydrogen.

Electrolysis utilizes an electrical power source, which is connected to two electrodes or platinum or stainless steel plates, both of are placed directly in the water. When designed properly, this apparatus causes hydrogen to be coursed to the negatively charged electrode or cathode, which is where electrons go into the water.

Oxygen is then coursed to the positively charged electrode or anode. With a Faradaic efficient system, the hydrogen molecules generated by this process is twice as many as the oxygen molecules generated, the total of both of which are proportional to the electrical charge generated by the water. When one or the other side reactions are dominant, different ratios of these elements are of course produced.

In an electrolysis process using pure water, over-potential is required in order to produce energy sufficient to overcome different hindrances to activation. In cases wherein there is insufficient energy, the rate of electrolysis of pure water may be radically slowed down or it may not occur at all. This is largely because of the self-ionizing action of pure water, which is about 1/1,000,000 as conductive as seawater.

microbial electrolysis

Certain electrolytic cells may also not have sufficient electrocatalysts, and this may further retard the process of producing hydrogen. Good ways to increase the rate of electrolysis is by adding an electrolyte such as salts, acids or a base into the water, and the use of an electrocatalyst. This electrolytic process is actually not very widely used in industrial hydrogen fuel production today, since it is still a lot easier and more cost-effective to produce hydrogen by using fossil fuels.

The roots of electrolysis to produce hydrogen fuel from water can be traced to as far back as 1789, when Jan Rudolph Deiman and Adriaan Paets van Troostwijk used an electrostatic machine in order to produce electricity. Deiman and van Troostwijk then utilized gold electrodes in a jar filled with water. In 1800, Alessandro Volta came up with the voltaic pile, which was used for electrolysis a short time later by William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle.

With the subsequent invention of the Gramme machine by Zénobe Gramme invented in 1869, the world finally had the first inexpensive method for hydrogen fuel production from water. This would set the stage for the electrolytic splitting of the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in the water by Dmitry Lachinov, which was developed in 1888.

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