GE says its new machine could make the hydrogen economy affordable, by slashing the cost of water-splitting technology.
Now researchers at GE say they’ve come up with a prototype version of an easy-to-manufacture apparatus that they believe could lead to a commercial machine able to produce hydrogen via electrolysis for about $3 per kilogram — a quantity roughly comparable to a gallon of gasoline — down from today’s $8 per kilogram. That could make it economically practical for future fuel-cell vehicles that run on hydrogen.
Today’s electrolyzers are made of metal plates bolted together manually, with gaskets between them, and the whole unit is typically housed in a chamber made of the same metals used in the electrodes, says Bourgeois. The materials are expensive and assembly requires costly labor.
Bourgeois’ research team came up with a way to make future electrolyzers largely out of plastic. They used a GE plastic called Noryl that is extremely resistant to the highly alkaline potassium hydroxide. And because the plastic is easy to form and join, manufacturing an electrolyzer is relatively cheap.
There are dozens of way to produce hydrogen cheaply. I’ve read from complex molecules that crank out hydrogen from water when they absorb sunlight to mutant algae that also produce hydrogen from water cheaply.
The mutant algae I’m referring to are especially interesting. They were engineered to manufacture (if I recall correctly) 100.000 times more hydrogen then they naturally did before being engineered. In order to become cost-efficient, this number would have to be increased another hundred-fold.
Once science manages to use easy-to-grow algae to produce hydrogen, hydrogen production can be expanded exponentially at virtually no cost.
This is why I believe that hydrogen will eventually be free once the hydrogen economy is in place.