Researchers create new catalyst to increase sustainability of desalination of seawater

As widely known, seawater constitutes approximately 96% of the Earth’s water. This makes it an attractive resource to meet the increasing need for safe drinking water and clean energy. In fact, scientists possess the technical knowledge to desalinate seawater and break it to generate hydrogen. Meanwhile, the demand for hydrogen is increasing as a source of clean energy.

However, on the downside, existing methods to desalinate seawater require a number of steps. First, it requires the process to be performed at high temperatures over long periods of time to produce a catalyst that displays the needed efficiency. To carry out the process, substantial amounts of energy is required that drives up the cost.

New Catalyst superior over predecessor ones

In an effort to provide a sustainable solution to this, researchers at the University of Houston have reported a catalyst that discharges oxygen. The remarkable feature of this catalyst is it takes only minutes to grow at room temperature on nickel foam that is commercially available. This catalyst when combined with a hydrogen evolution, which was earlier reported, can attain required current density to split seawater at low voltage.

The finding is published in a paper in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

“Nonetheless, speedy, low-cost method to desalinate seawater is critical to be commercially available. For any technology development, any discovery, how much ever it may be good, the end cost plays the most important role in its sustainability.” If the cost is not appealing, it will not make to the market. A way to make it easier to reduce the cost of commercialization of desalination of seawater and make it more acceptable for customers is discussed in the paper.