Aug 08


Seawater is probably the most widespread, clean and economical source of sustainable energy resources and other products. MARINECO scientists have researched into the verification of a technique for its electrolysis to yield the fuel of the future, hydrogen.

Seawater is a natural electrolyte. Unlike most other water sources on our planet, it has a high level of ionic salts that are necessary for the electrolysis process to be effective. The EC funded project MARINECO aimed to make electrolysis of this valuable natural resource the basis for the development of a power-industrial system for the Arctic region. The amazing feature of this ambitious plan was that all the technology – from wave power to hydrogen and oxygen production was based on the vast volume of naturally-occurring seawater surrounding the continent.

Russian based project partners at the Applied Technologies Company Ltd researched into the design of the electrolytic equipment on a laboratory scale to optimise the yield of the products. The products from the electrolysis of seawater are mainly hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine. The respective yield at the anode of gases oxygen and chlorine is dependent on factors such as the chloride ion concentration, temperature and the anoe current density. All these can lead to the overproduction of a product that may not be required at that time. Although chlorine has many industrial uses such as the production of hypochlorite, a disinfectant, it is essentially a highly toxic gas. The overall aim was to limit its production in favour of oxygen.

The experiments were carried out in a single cell model with electrode chambers separated by a membrane that allowed the exchange of ions present. The current-voltage characteristics and the content of anolyte and catolyte were defined along with the resultant quality and quantity of gases produced. Overall, this method of seawater electrolysis seemed very promising yielding products all with valuable sustainable uses. Hydrogen of course is an energy source and is the potential fuel for fuel-cell vehicles. It is also used to make fertilizers, glass, soaps and even margarine and peanut butter. Other commercially viable products included magnesium hydroxide that is a flame rtardant and a cure for indigestion, to name but a few uses.

At a time in our planet’s history when greenhouse gas production is running amok and our fossil fuel resources are running out, technology of this nature could be a valuable part of the rescue remedy. Parties interested in the environmentally friendly research can access the website at for further information.