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Electrolytic splitting of Water

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electrolytic splitting of Water

Mains level : Hydrogen as a clean fuel

Scientists from The Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have found out a low cost and efficient way to generate hydrogen from water using Molybdenum dioxide as a catalyst.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Hydrogen is the future of clean and sustainable energy. Discuss.

Electrolytic splitting of water

  • Electrolysis of water is the decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen gas due to the passage of an electric current.
  • This technique can be used to make hydrogen gas, the main component of hydrogen fuel, and breathable oxygen gas, or can mix the two into oxyhydrogen, which is also usable as fuel, though more volatile and dangerous.
  • It is a promising method to generate hydrogen but requires energy input that can be brought down in the presence of a catalyst.

Using Molybdenum Catalyst

  • The scientists have shown that Molybdenum dioxide (MoO2) nanomaterials annealed in hydrogen atmosphere can act as efficient catalysts to reduce the energy input to bring about water splitting into Hydrogen.
  • Molybdenum dioxide has the potential to replace the currently employed catalyst platinum, which is expensive and has limited resources.
  • MoO2 is a conducting metal oxide that is one of the low-cost catalysts with good efficiency and stability for hydrogen evolution.
  • The catalyst is highly stable for a longer duration of reaction with sustained hydrogen evolution from water.
  • About 80 % efficient conversion of electrical energy into hydrogen has been achieved using this catalyst.

Significance

  • Hydrogen is considered as the future of clean and sustainable energy as it can be generated from water and produces water on energy generation without any carbon footprint.
  • Hydrogen can be directly used as a fuel similar to natural gas or as input for fuel cells to generate electricity.
  • It is the future energy for a clean environment and an alternative to fossil fuels, underlining the necessity of low-cost catalysts for its production.
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