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Hydrogen: The next clean energy frontier

Published: 15th Feb, 2021


Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi have come up with a way to generate clean fuel hydrogen from water at a low-cost, which is a significant step towards efforts across the globe that are being made to look for cleaner and greener energy sources.

A fuel cell works much like an electric battery, converting chemical energy into electrical energy. 


What is hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen is a clean alternative to methane, also known as natural gas. 
  • It's the most abundant chemical element, estimated to contribute 75% of the mass of the universe.

Key-highlights of the research

  • The researchers have successfully split water by a process known as Sulphur-Iodine (SI) thermochemical hydrogen cycle to generate low-cost, clean hydrogen fuel for industrial consumption.
  • The thermo-chemical hydrogen cycle for splitting water offers a practical means of generating hydrogen as a fuel and also oxygen as a byproduct.
  • Hence, it can be considered favourably for the commercial production of hydrogen on a large scale, in the near future.

Sulphur-Iodine (SI) thermochemical hydrogen cycle

  • The S–I cycle is a pure thermochemical water splitting process consisting of three steps. The three steps are as follows:

I2 + SO2 + 2 H2O heat→ 2 HI + H2SO4 (120 °C)

The HI is then separated by distillation or liquid/liquid gravitic separation.

2H2SO4 heat→ 2 SO2 + 2 H2O + O2 (830 °C (1,530 °F))

The water, SO2 and residual H2SO4 must be separated from the oxygen byproduct by condensation.

2HI → I2 + H2 (450 °C)

Iodine and any accompanying water or SO2 are separated by condensation, and the hydrogen product remains as a gas.

Net reaction: 2 H2O → 2 H2 + O2


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