For sustainable society


Discovery of a Method of Creating Hydrogen Energy from Sea Water

A research team at California’s Stanford University has given a presentation on their development of a method of creating hydrogen energy from sea water.

Usually, when sea water is subjected to electrolysis, oxygen emerges at the positive terminal, while hydrogen is released from the negative terminal. However, at this point the chloride in the sea water corrodes the positive terminal, meaning that the system cannot be made to function continuously uninterrupted. But now, thanks to discovering a method of electrolysis in which the submerged positive terminal is not destroyed, they have been able to develop a system that creates hydrogen energy from sea water.

Theoretically, hydrogen energy can be used in a wide range of transportation scenarios from cars to planes. Submarines are given as just one example of how it can be used. Because oxygen is also produced by the process which creates hydrogen energy, the act of supplying the submarine with fuel can also supply the crew with life-giving oxygen. In other words, thanks to the supply of oxygen, a submarine can continue traveling without surfacing.

In fact, while hydrogen energy has been a big talking point since the beginning of the 21st century, for a long time it was far from practical implementation due to the level of technology and problems surrounding costs. However, all eyes are once again on hydrogen energy as a zero-emission option. Stanford University’s Professor Hongjie Dai agrees that “Because hydrogen does not emit carbon dioxide, it is an attractive option for fuel which is likely to mitigate the worsening climate change problem.”

In Japan too, in December 2017 the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry committed to the Basic Hydrogen Strategy for the realization of a hydrogen-based society. This Strategy encompasses a vision which should be pursued over a stretch of 50 years, and includes a plan of action until 2030 towards the realization of this vision. It is expected that demand for hydrogen energy will continue to rise more and more.