Electrochemical water splitting for hydrogen generation (Water electolysis)
Hydrogen has emerged as one of the promising sustainable solutions for the global energy problem via the preservation of non-renewable energy resources and zero greenhouse emissions during its utilization. It is well established that the most viable source of hydrogen is water and this is achieved by splitting water into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2).
Electrochemical water splitting represents the low-cost, green, sustainable, and most efficient methods of generating hydrogen and oxygen via the cathodic hydrogen evolution reactions (HERs) and anodic oxygen evolution reactions (OERs), respectively. It is however important to note that although the electrochemical process represents the key enabling technology, the high capital cost of electrolyzers remains a significant barrier.
The main contributing factor to the high cost of electrolyzers is the cost of producing the functional components, specifically, the electrodes and membranes. Various metals, metal oxides, metal carbides, etc. have been studied and applied in electrochemical water splitting and there is currently an intensified research in the fabrication of thin films of these various materials and their subsequent applications in water splitting. Apart from saving natural resources, the use of thin films as electrodes offers a huge advantage for industrial-scale electrochemical water splitting as well as improved performance under strict industrial conditions. Under our current research group, we focus on the fabrication of functional thin film using the spray-coating method . The spray-coating is a low-cost fabrication method capable of producing thin films of excellent quality and can be easily set up in developing countries such as Namibia. This means that through this project, we aim at the fabrication of vital components of the electrolyzers, in Namibia, using Namibian natural resources.
Under the proposed Namibia Green hydrogen Research Institute, research activities related to water electrolysis will be carried out under the Laboratory of Functional Materials, thus conserving the available resources. However, additional equipment will be required to enable proper analysis and characterization of the fabricated materials. This includes equipment such as X-ray Diffractometer (XRD), Field-Emission Scanning Microscope (FE-SEM), and other small iteMs Over five (5) years, we hope to have at least 4 MSc. students in addition to the research collaborations that we can foster with other institutions.