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HYDROGEN PRODUCTION BY UREA ELECTROLYSIS

Context

Indian scientists devised an electro-catalyst method for urea electrolysis hydrogen generation.

Keywords

  • The Nickel oxide (NiOx) based method for producing hydrogen from electro-oxidation of urea was created by scientists from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology.
  • Hydrogen is traditionally made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Instead of breaking water, urea is electro-oxidized in urea electrolysis.
  • Ni-based catalysts, which are abundant and inexpensive, are utilised in urea electrolysis.

Advantages of Urea Electrolysis

  • India is one of the world's largest urea producers, producing 244.55 LMT of urea in 2019-20.
  • On the other hand, the nitrogen fertiliser companies produce massive amounts of urea as effluents. 
  • This urea has the potential to be used in the manufacture of hydrogen.
  • As a result, urea electrolysis for hydrogen production aids in treating urea-based waste. Hydrogen can also be manufactured at a minimal cost and utilised as a fuel.
  • This method also conserves energy. 
  • This is because urea electrolysis uses 70% less energy than water electrolysis for hydrogen generation.

The urea oxidation challenge

  • The main issue in urea electrolysis oxidation is keeping the catalyst active for lengthy periods of time. 
  • It's difficult because the reactive intermediate (COx) adsorbs strongly on the active site, causing activity loss.

"The urea electrolysis is helpful towards urea-based waste treatment with low-cost hydrogen production. India is one of the top countries by urea production, and it produced 244.55 lakh metric tonnes of urea during 2019-20. The nitrogenous fertiliser industries generate a high concentration of ammonia and urea as effluents. This can be utilized for energy production towards our country's benefits," the scientists claimed.

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