Understanding the Water Electrolysis Process

by | Feb 20, 2018 | Science and Technology

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One of the most widespread options for production of hydrogen from renewable resources is water electrolysis. This all takes place in a device called a water electrolyzer. These units can range from being the size of a small appliance for small-scale needs all the way up to huge central facilities that may specifically be working to bring renewable, environmentally friendly energy sources into commercial use.

How Does Electrolysis Work?

Water electrolyzers are similar to fuel cells in that they have a cathode and an anode which are kept separated by an electrolyte mixture. There are various types of electrolyzers out there and each works in a bit of a different way, usually based on the electrolyte that is used.

Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Electrolyzers

One of these types of electrolyzers is the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). In this case, the electrolyte that is used is a solid plastic material. With this type of electrolysis water will react with the anode and form charged hydrogen ions and oxygen. The oxygen moves through a circuit while the hydrogen moves across the device to reach the cathode. At that point, the hydrogen combines with the electrons to form a hydrogen gas.

Alkaline Electrolyzers

Another option that is increasing in popularity is the electrolysis of alkaline. The alkaline solution used in these typically consists of potassium hydroxide or sodium, which has been available as a commercial product for years and years. However, new approaches are on the horizon and using alkaline exchange membranes is the newest attempt to modernize this procedure.

Solid Oxide Electrolyzers

With solid oxide electrolysis, a ceramic material is used as the electrolyte. It conducts oxygen ions with a negative charge at a high temperature, which generates hydrogen but in a unique way. At the cathode, water and electrons mix to create the hydrogen gas and oxygen ions that are negatively charged. The oxygen then passes through the ceramic membrane to reach on the anode which forms oxygen gas and electrons.

At Dioxide Materials, we offer electrolyzer kits and components, alkaline anion membranes, anionic ionomers, and more. We are working to make a new chemical value chain that uses renewable energy and carbon dioxide as a means for synthesizing expensive chemicals and field. If you are interested in learning more about our products or research, you can reach out to us by visiting the company website.