One of the knocks against producing hydrogen through electrolysis has always been that it takes too much energy and in turn money to enable this process. Now, a company called QuantumSphere out of Santa Ana, California has developed a novel method using nanoparticles for electrode catalysts to produce hydrogen from distilled water at prices that rival the costs of fossil fuels.
The QSI-Nano NiFe nanoparticles coat the electrodes in an electrolyzer and can have the same surface area as a football field. This increase in surface area facilitates an efficiency standard of 85-percent that exceeds by 10-percent a key benchmark set by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The electrodes coated with QSI-Nano NiFe have 1000 times the surface area of other materials and can be used to retrofit current electrolysis units. The new nanoparticle technology holds the promise for producing large amounts of H2 at home hydrogen fueling stations.
The hydrogen can either be produced inside one’s garage and then dispensed into the automobile or the hydrogen can be produced onboard the automobile itself. Either way, this would cut down on the need for rolling out hydrogen to all the nation’s current 170,000 fueling stations nationwide.
Regarding the company’s ambitions towards growing its product line the EETimes says, “QuantumSphere’s plan is first to retrofit existing electrolysis equipment with its nanoparticle electrodes to boost efficiency. Next, it intends to partner with original equipment manufacturers to design at-home and on-vehicle electrolysers for making hydrogen from water for fuel cells. Finally, the company wants to work with fuel cell makers to replace their expensive platinum electrodes with inexpensive stainless-steel electrodes coated with nickel-iron nanoparticles.”
Two of QuantumSphere’s current projects include supplying hydrogen on demand technology to a plug-in electric hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and for a stationary fuel cell backup power. Ideally, QuantumSphere sees its product solving the chicken-and-the-egg problem in regard to hydrogen car infrastructure by putting its on-demand electrolysis unit in everyone’s garage so that they may produce hydrogen by night using off-peak electricity from the grid or using solar energy by day to make this a truly clean solution indeed.