In a major breakthrough, scientists at Delhi’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a novel way of producing electricity from water at room temperature without using any power or chemicals. A team led by Dr. R.K. Kotnala used nanoporous magnesium ferrite to split water into hydronium (H3O) and hydroxide (OH) ions and used silver and zinc as electrodes to make a cell that produces electricity.
The hydroelectric cell that uses magnesium ferrite of 1 sq. inch size produces 8 mA current and 0.98 volt. According to a paper published in the International Journal of Energy Research, magnesium ferrite of 2-inch diameter produces 82 mA current and 0.9 volt. Now, the hydroelectric cell material design has been improved and a 2-inch diameter material generates 150 mA current and 0.9 V.
Magnesium’s high affinity for hydroxide allows it to split water into hydronium and hydroxide ions. Then, the hydronium ions get trapped inside the nanopores of magnesium ferrite and generate an electric field that helps in further dissociation of water. Magnesium ferrite is made as an oxygen-deficient material and has plenty of oxygen vacancies.