A study on the prototype device titled "Hydrogen production from the air" has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne have created a new system that utilizes direct air electrolysis (DAE) to produce hydrogen fuel directly from the moisture in the air. The researchers believe that 'green hydrogen' created cleanly, such as by splitting water (H2O) into hydrogen gas (H2), "is the most promising energy carrier of the low-carbon economy."
One of the hurdles for producing green hydrogen is the crossover between areas with renewable energy sources and freshwater availability. The researchers sought to overcome this with their prototype DAE module, which had a stable performance with 95% efficiency as it operated for 12 consecutive days. Notably, another of their devices was left to run on its own for eight months.
"Large parts of the world have water scarcity problems. When you have lots of renewable energy - wind or solar - you [often] don't have much fresh water for this type of hydrogen production," said Dr. Gang Kevin Li of the University of Melbourne.
The DAE module can operate in environments with a relative humidity of only 4%, circumventing any water supply issues and minimally impacting the environment as it produces hydrogen. It is estimated to be capable of producing 93 liters of hydrogen per square meter in an hour, which according to Li, means with ten square meters worth of DAE units, "you can power a whole house ... to replace your consumption of natural gas at home for cooking and heating."
You can read more from the study here.