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What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a process where chemical reactions are used to decompose matter and obtain pure elements. The term was coined in the 19th-century by English scientist, Michael Faraday, who discovered the laws underpinning electrolysis and devoted his career to making electricity a practical technology. Since its inception, electrolysis has been used widely on a commercial basis for separating or obtaining pure elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores.

For this reaction to occur, an electrolyser is needed. These units are scalable and can now be used to produce large quantities of hydrogen. When used in conjunction with clean energy, this means hydrogen production has the potential to help western countries transition to a decarbonised economy.

A company leading the way in this field is Denmark energy manufacturer, Ørsted, who is working with its partners to fund a two-megawatt electrolysis plant powered by offshore wind turbines. The plant is expected to produce around 600 kilograms of hydrogen a day for fuel cell buses, lorries, and taxis.

Electrolysis Hydrogen Production

Recent scientific breakthroughs in electrolysis have led to the method being considered as one of the best solutions for producing emissions-free hydrogen. The technique involves using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen or biomass into hydrogen and biochar.

Two Types of Electrolysers

Oxygen and hydrogen are separated from the liquid when a direct electrical current is applied.

Fuel sources such as biomass are slowly heated in an oxygenless environment then steam is injected to capture the hydrogen.

Benefits of Electrolysis

  • Has the potential to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% in the next 10 years, which would see prices drop to $1 per kilogram.
  • Can produce hydrogen with an energy efficiency of 80%, which is extraordinarily high when compared to coal (35%), natural gas (45%), and oil (38%).
  • Creates hydrogen at a 99.9% purity.

Electrolysis Market:

  • The global water electrolysis market is forecasted to grow from US$218 million in 2020 to US$673.8 million by 2027.
  • Market-driven by growing demand for green hydrogen in multiple global industries; including energy, transport, mining, construction, manufacturing, aviation, logistics mobile, power generation, vehicle manufacturing and much more.
  • The Australian government has already invested AU$70 million into fast-tracking the competitive hydrogen electrolysis sector.

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