New energy: hydrogen from moisture and plasma at 100 million°C
Specialists from the National Institute of Seoul have managed to maintain plasma at 100 million °C for 30 seconds in a fusion reactor, the KSTAR tokamak. The Koreans’ method involves the use of a low-density plasma, which allows charged atoms to move rapidly through its centre and results in a more stable reaction. This is another step towards unlimited clean energy, although it is understood that a grid-operated fusion reactor will not be available for several more decades.
Thanks in part to the construction of a device known as a ‘direct air electrolyser’, scientists at the University of Melbourne have produced hydrogen using only electricity and moisture contained in the air. This could help deliver hydrogen fuel to dry and remote regions with minimal environmental impact (especially using renewable energy). Experts have managed to electrolyse water contained in the air at 4% humidity.
To sustainably meet global energy demand, scientists are looking for a more cost-effective way to release the power of hydrogen from water molecules. At the Danish University of Technology, they are working on the durability of electrolytic cells, which use electricity to separate hydrogen from oxygen. Experts at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, on the other hand, are developing powerful batteries that will be the backbone of power grids in the future, storing energy extracted from the wind and the sun.