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Cheaper Hydrogen Obtained with Stainless-Steel Brush Cathode


brushScientists have discovered that an easy and efficient way to generate hydrogen from organic matter is by using microbial electrolysis cells technology(MECs). But the technology is not quite cost effective, as for the electrolysis process is used platinum. The cathode catalyst in the electrolysis process is made out of platinum which is precious metal.

Scientists seem to have found a way to obtain hydrogen from organic matter without the expensive platinum. They developed a stainless-steel brush that can help in the microbial electrolysis process reducing the costs in this way up to 80 %.

The microbes stick to the anode as they metabolize organic matter in a oxygen free chamber. These microbes release electrons which travel from the anode to the cathode(as they have no oxygen to react with) where they find protons. The electrons combine with the protons to form hydrogen. After burning, hydrogen creates only water waste so this type of fuel appears very environmental friendly.

By adding small voltage to the cathode(0.25 Volts) the efficiency of the process can improve. Still, up to now the platinum catalyst on the cathode was used and this was holding back further developments.

The cathode catalyst is formed by a flat piece of carbon cloth which is covered by a thin layer of platinum. If the carbon would be covered by stainless steel the efficiency of the catalyst will be diminished by two to three times. But if the area of the stainless steel is increased reproducing the form of a high-density bristle brush, hydrogen production increases to match the values of the platinum cathode.

The stainless-steel brush cathode is far cheaper than platinum cathode while the efficiency remains the same.

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